MCEC Consortium Celebrates Five-year Anniversary

The Center for Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion (MCEC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with a scientific symposium on catalysis at De Fabrique in Utrecht.

Collaborations and Impact

Because catalysis can be studied at different length scales, different scientific disciplines are involved in catalysis research. The main objective of MCEC is that chemists, physicists materials scientists and chemical engineers  work together, both within and outside their own discipline, to find answers to important questions in the field of energy transition. Therefore, on 29 November this year, MCEC organized a scientific symposium where the MCEC community presented the latest state of their research to each other.


Dr. Mathieu Odijk (University of Twente) kicked off the symposium with his research into micro-level catalysis by means of microreactors. Next, a new member of the MCEC scientific advisory board, Prof. Raffaella Ocone (Heriot-Watt University), spoke about improvements in chemical processes on an industrial scale. The following presentation by Prof. Jens Nørskov (Technical University of Denmark) gave inspiring insights to answer an important question in catalysis research: ‘How do we make new catalysts for N2 activation?

Dr. Robin Geitenbeek (Utrecht University), Dr. Hai Le The (Twente University) and Katarina Stanciakova (Utrecht University) then presented their PhD projects from the first phase of MCEC. Scientific director Prof. Bert Weckhuysen (Utrecht University) concluded the day with a lecture on how spectroscopy and microscopy can be used to reveal chemical processes in catalysts.

MECC Symposium
Lecture Bert Weckhuysen at symposium (photo: D. Boetekees)

Second phase of MCEC

With this symposium the first phase of MCEC came to an end. MCEC provides 40 positions for PhD students and postdocs in two phases of five years, whereby it can leave its ma

The MCEC consortium is a gravity programme that was granted funding of ~ 32 million euro for personnel and facilities by NWO in 2014 for a maximum of ten years. This means that over the next five years, MCEC will be able to continue working on groundbreaking research in the field of catalysis.rk on Dutch catalysis research and thereby contribute to the further international profiling of this important area of research. Furthermore, the community currently consists of 54 staff members, a management team of 7 professors and a scientific advisory committee of 8 leading international scientists.

Prof. Niels Deen (TU/e) lecture ‘Universiteit van Nederland’

Not electric, not hydrogen, but iron! According to Prof. Niels Deen (TU/e) this is the alternative to sustainable driving. In his lecture on ‘Universiteit van Nederland‘ he explains how rusty iron can help us to obtain a constant supply of energy:

Prof. Bert Weckhuysen named Karl Ziegler Guest Professor 2019

Prof. Bert Weckhuysen (UU) received this year’s highest award from the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung. He visited the Mülheim Institute from 28 to 30 October to give three lectures, receive his award and be available to the scientists for exchange. Bert Weckhuysen has been honored for his outstanding achievements in the field of operando characterization of catalysts.

Read more about the Karl-Ziegler Guest Professorship.



29 October 2019

Andries Meijerink (UU) wins KNAW Gilles Holst Medaille

Chemist Andries Meijerink will receive the KNAW Gilles Holst Medal this year. Meijerink has been awarded the medal for modelling, making and characterising new luminous materials that improve the efficiency of lighting and solar cells.

Andries Meijerink, Professor of Solid State Chemistry at the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science and MCEC member at Utrecht University, is an internationally renowned expert in the design, composition and understanding of materials that emit light. His research is crucial for the transition to a sustainable society in which efficient lighting and the conversion of sunlight into electricity will play a pivotal role.


11 October 2019

ERC Starting grant for David Fernández Rivas (UT)

David Fernández Rivas has been awarded the ERC Starting Grant. The MCEC member from University of Twente received the maximum amount of € 1.5 million for his project focused on the development of needle-free injections, or: ‘bubble gun’, as the technology is based on ‘pushing’ liquid into the skin using laser-made bubbles.

David Fernández is a great advocate of societal benefit of scientific research. He’s ensuring its deployment into society on three topics: cavitation, renewable energy, and process intensification through microfluidics. Since 2014 he has focused on biomedical projects.

What is it exactly that fascinates you about the biomedical implementation?
It’s all about the challenge. First you have the technical factor: A lot of researchers before me have tried to study this difficult topic. The big question is, can I make it work? Then there’s the human factor. Successful implementation will only be possible if we can deal with all the variables of the human body. In contradiction to the work we do in a lab, the circumstances can change instantly and unpredictably.

A €1.5 million ERC Starting grant, what will you do with it?
Such a grant can be spend in many ways. Depending on the type of research you do, your location, whether or not you do a lot of experimental work. You have to factor in the salary of people who are working on the project, the equipment and the experiments.
For this specific project we will be looking to work with three PhD students and one PD. The aim is to assemble a multi-disciplinary team that covers the fields of micro-fluidics, physics and bio-engineering. For me, it is a great opportunity to learn to work on a longer running project. Now I can apply all the experiences that I’ve gained during my time as PD and assistant professor with other professors.

What would be your biggest take-away for any aspiring MCEC PD or PhD that may think of taking a next step in academia?
My advice would be: Do not stop when you’re afraid that your research idea is not good enough. With time your idea will become better. How? By pitching your idea to many colleagues. Your ideas will improve, your research will become more focused. Peer reviewers will get familiar with your work . It’s not a miracle. Of course, luck plays a part. But it’s also about putting in the hard work and continuously improving your ideas.

Read more about the ‘Bubble Gun’-project, the ERC Starting Grant and see the vacancies of the project.



6 September 2019

Extreme high-resolution microscope coming to Utrecht

Dr. Marijn van Huis

Utrecht University is getting a new transmission electron microscope, which will be one of the most comprehensive electron microscopes for materials studies in the Netherlands, and one of the best in the world. Researchers will be able to use the microscope to study materials, nanoparticles, and 2D materials such as graphene with a resolution of a single atom. MCEC researcher Marijn van Huis explains more about this new addition on the website of Utrecht University: “With the new microscope, we can not only look at atoms, but also at the electrons surrounding them. That way, we can also see if the atoms carry an electric charge, and whether they are in an excited state. That’s important for the study of catalysts, for example, in which the atom’s charge determines whether it is catalytically active. With this technology, we can see where the catalytically active atoms are located in the material, and we can study how to activate them.”

Read more in English or in Dutch.



19 June 2019



Programme MCEC Annual Meeting 2019

June 19 & 20
University of Twente

June 19

10.30 Registration and welcome coffee
11.00 Opening by prof. Bert Weckhuysen
11.15 4 x 20 minute PhD/PD presentations:

  • José Escobar Encarnacion (UT): Marangoni puffs
  • Anne-Eva Nieuwelink (UU): Catalyst Particles and Microfluidics: Reaction, Separation and Analysis 
  • Michel van Etten (TU/e): The optimal particle size for cobalt-based Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
  • Ajoy Kandar (UU): Collective behavior of light switchable active matchstick colloids

12.35 Lunch

13.30 Invited Lecture by Dr. Yali Tang (TU/e):
Application of DNS in Fluidization and Fluid Particle Systems Research

14.15 Short break
14.25 3 x 20 minute PhD/PD presentations

  • Pablo Peñas (UT): Ultrasound-enhanced mass transfer during single bubble diffusive growth
  • Alejo Aguirre (TU/e): Open-cell foams as catalysts support for the Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis
  • Laurens Mandemaker (UU): Metal-Organic Framework Thin-Films

15.25 Short break
15.35 Presentation MCEC Demonstrator by Dr. Mathieu Odijk (UT)
16.00 PhD/PD poster session 1
17.00 End of poster session 1
18.00 BBQ
20.00 Sport activities

June 20

08.30 Opening by Prof. Hans Kuipers
08.45 2 x 20 minute PhD presentations:

  • Jasper Lozeman (UT): Surface Enhanced Vibrational Spectroscopy in a Flow-Through Microfluidic Chip
  • Vishak Chandra (TU/e): Direct Numerical Simulation of hot-spots in fixed bed reactors

09.25 Short break
09.40 3 x 20 minute PhD presentations:

  • Peter Dung (UT): Temperature mixing and heat transfer in turbulent bubbly flow
  • Freddy Oropeza Palacio (TU/e): Ni-Induced Hole States Enhance the Oxygen Evolution Reaction Activity of NixCo3-xO4
  • Stijn Hinterding (UU): Intermittent Charge Carrier Storage in Single Semiconductor Nanocrystals

10.40 Short break

11.00 Invited lecture by Prof. Guido Mul (UT):
Performance evaluation of Si-based photoanodes in solar to hydrogen devices

11.45 PhD/PD poster session 2
12.45 Lunch
13.45 Invited lecture by Dr. Ward van der Stam (UU):
C3 for the price of CO2: in-situ characterization of the CO2 reduction reaction on colloidal electrocatalyst nanoparticles
14.30 Short break
14.45 Debate competition for PhDs
15.50 Wrap up and ceremony (MCEC Poster Prize)
16.00 Closing



2019 MCEC Lectureship Prof. Karsten Reuter

The MCEC Management Team is happy to announce that Prof. Karsten Reuter (Chair for Theoretical Chemistry and Catalysis Research Center, Technical University of Munich) is recipient of the third MCEC Lectureship.

15-23 May, he will visit different MCEC research groups, give scientific lectures and participate in scientific discussions. Have a look at the program here.

In Utrecht, a combined lecturing program will be organized, which will also include a lecture from Prof. George Huber (Richard Antoine and Dororthy O’Brien Professor of Chemical Engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison), who will visit Utrecht at the same time.

All lectures are open to both MCEC members and all other people interested; registration is not required. Also, PhD lectures will be organized in Eindhoven and Utrecht for all MCEC PhDs and PDs.
**13 May 2019

ERC Proof of Concept Grant awarded to Prof. Detlef Lohse and Prof. Bert Weckhuysen

Together with 54 other ERC grant holders, Prof. Detlef Lohse and Prof. Bert Weckhuysen received top-up funding from the European Research Council (ERC) via its Proof of Concept Grants (PoC), to explore the commercial or societal potential of their ERC-funded frontier research results. The awarded projects cover the following topics:

  • Prof. Detlef Lohse – Nanoextraction, separation and detection of micropollutants in one single and simple step
  • Prof. Bert Weckhuysen – Greenhouse gases to valuable liquid chemicals: High-flux zeolite membrane-based reactor for the efficient conversion of CH4 and CO2

Proof of Concept grants, worth €150,000 each, can be used for example to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts. The new grants were awarded to researchers working in 15 countries.




3 May 2019

Completion of PhD Cum Laude – Dr. Aditya Sengar

On April 18, Dr. Aditya Sengar received his PhD degree (cum laude) making him one of the youngest PhDs (at age 25) to do so from TU/e. Dr. Sengar’s work in mesoscale modeling has been able to connect reactions from a chemistry perspective(nanoscale) to a chemical reactor engineers perspective (microscale-macroscale). Here you can read the full text of the PhD thesis and here you’ll find the public summary. Congratulations Dr. Aditya Sengar!



18 April 2019