The FP7-funded SusFuelCat project (sustainable fuel production by aqueous phase reforming – understanding catalysis and hydrothermal stability of carbon supported noble metals) aims at improving the process for using wet biomass to produce hydrogen as a source of energy. Hydrogen can either be used directly as a fuel or it can be stored in fuel cells in order to produce electrical energy. Furthermore, it is ideally suited to advancing the move towards alternative energy: unlike fossil fuels, it has the advantage of only producing water vapour – and no CO2  – during combustion. It can also be obtained from biomass such as cellulose and is therefore a renewable energy source. Finally, SusFuelCat focuses on the production of hydrogen using the catalytic aqueous phase reforming process (APR) – the energy efficiency of which is promising.

This way, SusFuelCat also supports the European Commission’s Europe 2020 growth strategy: by 2020, the objective is that greenhouse gas emissions will have been reduced by 20 percent, the proportion of renewable energy will have risen to 20 percent, and energy savings of 20 percent will have been achieved.

Catalytic converters are the key components in the process. It is anticipated that improving these as part of the APR process will continue to reduce the cost of hydrogen production, extend the durability of the converters, and increase hydrogen efficiency. In this way, SusFuelCat will make the whole procedure more sustainable.

Project aims and fields of work

SusFuelCat aims at improving the production of hydrogen during the catalytic aqueous phase reforming process (APR), as this process guarantees a high degree of energy efficiency.

This requires the following steps:

  • Tuning model catalytic materials for their properties
  • Detailed in-situ und ex-situ material characterization
  • Combining computational, in-situ kinetic and long-term experiments
  • Testing of model and real raw material feedstock
  • Rational catalyst design geared by industrial key performance indicators

Advantages of the APR process:

  • Comparatively low process temperatures and moderate pressure can be used to convert aqueous or water-soluble biogenic base materials into hydrogen that contains scarcely any contamination
  • This eliminates the energy-intensive drying process for biomass

The goals of SusFuelCat are:

  • Production of almost carbon monoxide free hydrogen
  • Highly active catalyst with high selectivity towards hydrogen
  • Achieving a long but monitored service life for the catalytic converters; carbon-based carrier materials such as nanotubes or activated carbons will be used. These offer greater long-term stability and make it easier to use environmentally friendly methods for recycling the metals
  • Reducing the costs of catalytic converters – this also includes reducing or replacing the use of expensive noble metals such as platinum or palladium

Target group

The results of the SusFuelCat project are important for the following stakeholders:

  • Chemical companies focussing on the development of carbon supported nano catalysts
  • Energy producers and stakeholders other industrial sectors that focus on sustainable production or sustainable products
  • Political decision-makers who wish to further the transition to alternative energy sources
  • The interested general public

BayFOR as a partner

BayFOR supported the proposal writing and handled the financial and administrative aspects of SusFuelCat . It also took over the responsibility for internal communication during the preparatory stages. During the course of the project, BayFOR is responsible for project management and supports partners in presenting their results to the public, and to experts.

Funding period

SusFuelCat (sustainable fuel production by aqueous phase reforming – understanding catalysis and hydrothermal stability of carbon supported noble metals) started on January, 1st  2013 and will run for 48 months. It has a total budget of €4.6 million.

The EU Commission has provided SusFuelCat with €3.5 million EU contribution as part of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) in the “Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies (NMP) sub-area of the specific “Cooperation” programme.


Under the coordination of Prof. Dr. Bastian Etzold, junior professor for catalytic materials at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (later and currently TU Darmstadt), nine further institutions are involved in SusFuelCat coming from Finland, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Russia, and Spain. The consortium is comprised of six universities and four companies, including three small and one large enterprise.

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
Abo Akademi University, Finland
Boreskov Institute of Catalysis, Russia
BTG Biomass Technology Group BV, Netherlands
FutureCarbon GmbH, Germany
Johnson Matthey PLC, United Kingdom
Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain
University of Palermo, Italy
University of Twente, Netherlands
Bavarian Research Alliance, Germany

Further information


Prof. Bastian J. M. Etzold

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bastian J. M. Etzold
Professorship  for chemical technology
Technische Universität Darmstadt
SusFuelCat Coordination
Phone: +49 (0)6151 1629983

Your contacts at BayFOR

Dr. Nico Riemann

Dr. Nico Riemann
Deputy Head of Unit and Scientific Officer Information & Communication Technologies |
Engineering & Natural Sciences
Phone: +49 911 50715-910

M.A. Verena Bürger

M. A. Verena Bürger-Michalek
Project Manager
Phone: +49 89 9901888-174

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