Heidelberg University and BASF Continue Catalysis Research Project CaRLa

08.12.2023 - BASF and Heidelberg University have signed an agreement to continue the joint operation of the Catalysis Research Laboratory (CaRLa) for another five years until 2028. Ten researchers are currently employed at CaRLa in Heidelberg, Germany, working at the interface between academic and industrial research.

Since the founding of the catalysis laboratory in 2006, the research partners said, more than 100 employees from 34 countries have been involved in the development of new processes for homogeneous catalysis and organic synthesis.

“Basic research in the field of homogeneous catalysis is important for BASF, as it helps us develop chemical processes that require less energy and generate less waste. CaRLa is thus an important cornerstone for us to achieve BASF’s sustainability goals,” said Helmut Winterling, president of BASF Group Research.

Since 2015, 18 projects have been transferred to BASF research, where they are further developed for industrial applications. CaRLa therefore represents a successful collaboration between academic and industrial research, the company stated.

“Going beyond the classic partnerships between science and industry, the concept of the CaRLa catalysis laboratory is based on close integration of the research fields. This accelerates the transfer of technology and knowledge into large-scale applications, which is particularly important given that society is facing the challenge of sustainable resource use. Another important building block of this collaboration is promoting new talent. Young researchers benefit from this collaboration within the framework of CaRLa because the knowledge relating to sustainability that they acquire can also be applied in their subsequent careers in industry or academia,” said Katja Patzel-Mattern, vice-rector Innovation and Transfer at Heidelberg University.

To use raw materials more efficiently and reduce the CO2 footprint of products and production processes, CaRLa has in recent years intensified its work on new processes for the chemical recycling of plastic waste. One example is selectively breaking down polyurethane plastics into basic building blocks which can be recycled to form polymers (complete plastics) again. Besides the development of new processes for chemical recycling, the scientists are also working on catalysis systems for the efficient production of bio-based and biodegradable polymers.

According to CaRLa, its work has so far resulted in 104 academic papers published in renowned journals. Moreover, the catalysis laboratory has filed 41 patent applications since its founding.

In connection with the extension of the contract, there will be organizational changes at CaRLa: Thomas Schaub and Jaroslaw Mormul will jointly assume leadership of the laboratory on the BASF side. In addition to Julia Schüller, vice president Chemicals Research at BASF, Christian Rein, head of the research group Homogeneous Catalysis and Acrylics at BASF, will join the steering committee. From Heidelberg University, the steering committee includes organic chemist A. Stephen K. Hashmi as scientific manager, and inorganic chemist Peter Comba as another member.

CaRLa is an “Industry on Campus” project of Heidelberg University. With these projects – strategic collaborative research partnerships with companies located in the scientific hub of Heidelberg and the region – the university wants to encourage the transfer of research results and scientific findings to business and industry.



Carl-Bosch-Straße 38
67056 Ludwigshafen

+49 621 60 0