Young Top Researcher Honored

Gottschalk-Diederich-Baedeker Prize

© UDE/Juliana Fischer

She develops energy-efficient methods to produce hydrogen for the energy transition or to bind climate-damaging carbon dioxide: Materials Chain member Prof. Dr. Corina Andronescu. Now the UDE chemist has received the Gottschalk-Diederich-Baedeker Prize. This prize is awarded by the Essen-based G.D. Baedeker Foundation to scientists who bring their outstanding research to industry. The prize money is 5,000 euros.

With the prize, the foundation wants to make the benefits of UDE research visible for the Ruhr metropolitan region. Corina Andronescu's work is a perfect example of this. This is because the 35-year-old is investigating how, for example, catalytic hydrogen production can also become more sustainable on a larger scale in the future. "The industry is working on a large scale. So that expensive and rare raw materials can be avoided here, I am researching new materials in the hydrogen production process," says Andronescu. "In particular, I want to replace the precious metals platinum and iridium in the membranes and electrodes of the standard electrolysis chambers with more sustainable and cheaper base metals."

Moreover, so far only the purest water can be used to produce hydrogen - which is scarce and requires energy-intensive processing. For this reason, the electrochemist is also investigating what water quality still works in electrocatalytic processes without damaging the materials. She is also developing new types of catalyst materials to bind climate-damaging CO2 in order to produce useful basic chemicals such as ethanol or ethylene.

UDE Rector Prof. Dr. Barbara Albert, Martin Sutter, board member of the G.D. Baedeker Foundation, and Essen's Mayor Thomas Kufen were impressed by the young scientist's commitment at the award ceremony. Laudator and Materials Chain member Prof. Dr. Stephan Barcikowski was particularly pleased with the "double whammy" that Andronescu brings to the Faculty of Chemistry. She received the prestigious Joachim Walter Schultze Award from the Association of Electrochemical Research Institutions just in September.

Andronescu has been at UDE since 2018 and is well connected in the research community. She is vice speaker of ACTIVES SITES, a research building currently under construction at the Essen campus. Here, active centers in aqueous environments are being researched, which play an important role in chemical and biological processes, for example also in electrochemical energy conversion.