ACA – Center for Automotive Catalytic Systems Aachen



For decades now, exhaust treatment, in particular of combustion engines, has been the subject of intensive fundamental research. Ever more strict emission standards and the increasing scarcity of natural resources will continue to place increasing demands on aftertreatment systems. In the development of catalyst systems, improved catalyst efficiency, decreased costs, and enhanced stability are among the most important objectives.

Research Objectives

The interdisciplinary approach of the Project House makes it possible to analyze and optimize the reactive materials and to investigate diffusion and material transport processes. In order to cover the entire chain from development to product utilization, we also investigate the functionality, operation and interaction of the components of catalysts manufactured in the Project House. Main research objectives include:

  • Improvement of catalyst efficiency
  • Enhancement of operational boundary conditions
  • Reduction of precious metals and rare elements
  • System-oriented development processes

  In summary, research at the Project House covers topics ranging from materials development through carrier structures to systems integration.

Involved Professors and Departments

Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences - Faculty 1

Chair of Microstructure Analysis
Head: Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Joachim Mayer

Chair for Heterogeneous Catalysis and Industrial Chemistry
Institute of Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry (ITMC)
Head: Professor Dr. Regina Palkovits
ITMC (de)

Institute of Anorganic Chemistry (IAC)
Head: Professor Dr. Ulrich Simon

Faculty of Mechanical Engineering - Faculty 4

Institute of Heat and Mass Transfer (WSA)
Head: Professor Dr. Reinhold Kneer

Institute for Combustion Engines (VKA)
Head: Professor Dr. Stefan Pischinger

Institute for Combustion Technology (ITV)
Head: Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heinz Günter Pitsch

Faculty of Georesources and Materials Engineering - Faculty 5

Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK-1): Materials Synthesis and Processing
Head: Professor Dr. Olivier Guillon
IEK-1 (Forschungszentrum Jülich)

Infrastructure and Equipment

The ACA has access to the facilities and equipment of several contribution institutions at RWTH and Forschungszentrum Jülich. Analysis techniques include:

  • X-ray diffraction (XRD)
  • Nitrogen adsorption
  • Chemisorption- TPR, TPD, TPX
  • Water adsorption
  • Thermogravimetric analysis (+ FTIR)
  • Infrared spectroscopy – ATR, DRIFTS, in situ DRIFTS
  • Elemental analysis – ICP-OES, CHNOS

Electron microscopy facilities and methods include:

  • SEM (EDX)
  • TEM (FIB Lamellae)
  • XPS (In-Situ XPS)

Test Benches

  • Synthetic gas test benches and test benches to determine catalytic converter aging
  • Engine test benches for passenger cars and utility vehicles
  • Roller test bench


As part of ERS-funded project work, the Project House investigated the utilization of Perovskite materials as non-precious-metal catalyst components for various usage scenarios. Moreover, the AVA is concerned with the comparative analysis of commercial exhaust gas aftertreatment methods and the development and optimization of operating strategies for NOx storage catalysts.

These findings are currently being incorporated into the BMBF-funded research project DeNOx. In this project, ACA is pursuing a new approach to nitrogen oxide reduction by combining the known systems, storage catalyst and SCR catalyst, including new material developments.

Furthermore, the researchers at ACA have investigated the effects of different hydrocarbons on the behaviour of NOx storage catalysts as part of a Ford Alliance project. In a recently started Ford-Alliance project, this will be extended to the special exhaust components that are expected to be produced using novel synthetic fuels, e.g. from excess electricity (power to fuel).