Prof. Leitner


Prof. Dr. rer. nat.

Walter Leitner

Center for Molecular Transformation



Building: Sammelbau Chemie

Room: 38B 420

Worringerweg 2

52074 Aachen


Phone: +49 241 80-26480
Fax Fax: +49 241 80-22177



Educational and professional experience

since 10/2017 Director for Molecular Catalysis at the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, Mülheim/Ruhr
since 12/2002 External Scientific Member of the Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research, Mülheim/Ruhr
since 02/2002 Chair of Technical Chemistry and Petrochemistry (Successor to. Prof. W. Keim)
04/2000 - 02/2002 Acting Chair of "Technical Chemistry and Petrochemistry" at RWTH Aachen
01/1998 - 02/2002 Head of the Technical Laboratories at the Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research, Mülheim/Ruhr
06/1995 - 01/1998 Group leader at the Department of "Organic Synthesis" (Director: Prof. M. T. Reetz) at the Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research, Mülheim/Ruhr.
05/1995 Habilitation (Dr. rer. nat. habil.) in Inorganic Chemistry and appointment as Privatdozent (lecturer) at the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena (Thesis: Catalytic Hydrogenation of Carbon Dioxide to Formic Acid)
08/1992 - 05/1995 Research associate at the Max-Planck-Working Group "CO2-Chemistry" (Director: Prof. E. Dinjus) at the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
01/1991 - 08/1992 Liebig Fellow of the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie at the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Regensburg
01/1990 - 12/1990 Postdoctoral Studies at the Dyson Perrins Laboratory for Organic Chemistry, University of Oxford, UK, with Prof. J. M. Brown
12/1987 - 12/1989 PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) with Prof. H. Brunner, Institute for Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Regensburg (Thesis: Enantioselective Catalytic Transferhydrogenation using Formates)
10/1982 - 12/1987 Studies of Chemistry at the University of Regensburg (Dipl.-Chem.-Univ.)

Research interests

  • Green Chemistry through sustainable catalytic processes
  • Catalytic conversion of carbon dioxide
  • Mechanisms and structure/activity-relationships in organometallic catalysis
  • Selective and catalytic conversion of biomass
  • Supercritical fluids and other advanced fluids as benign reaction media for catalysis
  • Multiphase catalysis and catalyst immobilization for continuous-flow molecular catalysis


  • Over 280 contributions to peer-reviewed international journals and edited monographs Complete list of publications

  • Co-Editor of the books Chemical Synthesis Using Supercritical Fluids (Wiley/VCH1999), Multiphase Homogeneous Catalysis (Wiley/VCH 2005) and Handbook of Green Chemistry, Vol 4-6: Green Solvents (Wiley/VCH, 2010)

  • More than 60 patents and patent applications in the field of catalytic chemical synthesis and/or the application of supercritical fluids

  • More than 100 invited lectures at international conferences and research institutions

Fellowships, Scientific Recognition and Awards


Molecular Science Forum Lecture of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Chemical Society


Nankai University Lectureship in Organic Chemistry, Nankai University, China

2014 European Sustainable Chemistry Award of the European Science Association of Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS), together with Prof. Jürgen Klankermayer (RWTH Aachen)
2013 Visiting Lecturer for Promotion of Chemistry, National Science Foundation, Taiwan
2011 Honorary Member of the Ethiopian Chemical Society
2010 Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC)
2009 Wöhler Award of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker
2008 CATSA Eminent Visitor Award of the South Africander Catalysis Society
2005 Guest Professorship at the Universitè de Bourgogne, Dijon, France
2003 Griess Lecture of the Royal Society of Chemistry
2001 Otto-Roelen-Medal of DECHEMA
2000 2nd International Messer Innovation-Award
11/1999 Nozaki Lecture, Univ. Osaka, Japan
01/1999 Visiting Scientist at the National Institute for Chemicals and Materials Research in Tsukuba, Japan
1998 Carl-Zerbe-Award of the Deutsche Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft für Erdöl, Erdgas und Kohle (DMGK)
1998 Bennigsen-Foerder-Award of Nordrhein-Westfalen
1997 Angewandte-Chemie-Award for best lecture at the Chemiedozententagung
1997 Gerhard-Hess-Award of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
1991 - 1992 Liebig-Fellowship of the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie (FCI)
1990 Postdoctoral Fellowship of the Stiftung Volkswagenwerk
1990 Award for Best PhD Thesis in Sciences of Energieversorgung Ostbayern AG
1990 Studienabschluss-Stipendium of the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie (FCI)
1987 - 1989 Promotions-Stipendium of the Government of Bavaria
1982 - 1987 Hundhammer-Stipendium of the Government of Bavaria

Professional activities


  • 2004-2010 / 2010-2016 Scientific Editor / Chairman of the Editorial Board of “Green Chemistry” (Royal Society of Chemistry)
  • Since 2005 Member of the International Advisory Board of “Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis” (Wiley)
  • 2018 - 2021 Member of the Kuratorium/Editorial Board of Angewandte Chemie (GDCh, Wiley-VCH)
  • Since 2021 Advisory Editor of Angewandte Chemie (GDCh, Wiley-VCH)


  • 2002 - 2016 Chairman of the Conference Series “Green Solvents”
  • 2013 Member of the Organizing Committee of the 15th International Congress on Catalysis (ICC), Munich, Germany
  • 2019 Chairman of the 14th European Congress on Catalysis (EuropaCat), Aachen, Germany
  • 2019 Chairman of the 17th International Conference in Carbon Dioxide Utilization (ICCDU XVII), Aachen, Germany
  • 2022 Chairman of Gordon Research Conference on Green Chemistry, Castelldefels, Spain

Coordinated Research Programs

  • 2002 – 2006 Coordinator of the BMBF funded ConNeCat lighthouse project “Regulated Systems for Multiphase Catalysis”
  • 2010-2014 Coordinator of the large-scale collaborative research project “SYNFLOW” within the 7th Framework Program of the EU
  • Since 2007 Co-Spokesperson of the Cluster of Excellence “Tailor-Made Fuels form Biomass / The Fuel Science Center” at RWTH Aachen University and MPI CEC
  • Since 2007 Scientific Director of CAT, the joint Catalytic Center of RWTH Aachen and Covestro
  • Since 2016 Chairman of the Coordination Group of the BMBF funded Kopernikus Project “P2X: Exploration, Validation, and Implementation of „Power-to-X“ Concepts”

Scientific Societies and Advisory Boards

  • 2009 - 2016 Strategy Council of RWTH Aachen University
  • 2014 - 2018 Scientific Advisory Board of the Renewable Energy Program of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT
  • Since 2013 External Advisory Board of the UK Catalysis Hub
  • Since 2009 Scientific Advisory Board of the Center for Sustainable and Circular Technologies at the University of Bath
  • 2018 – 2020 Advisory Board of the International Green Technology Association, Beijing, China
  • 2006 - 2014 Board of the Section “Sustainable Chemistry” of GDCh
  • 2005-2011 Board of the Petrochemical Division of DGMK
  • Since 2015 Scientific Council of DGMK
  • 2006-2008 Chairman of the Catalysis Section of DECHEMA
  • 2011-2014 Chairman of the German Catalysis Society GeCatS
  • 2011-2016 / since 2018 Member of the Board of DECHEMA, from 2020 as Deputy Chairman