Humboldt Fellow Performing Research on Hydrogen Production at the University of Greifswald

Portrait of Prof. Dr. Carola Schulzke und Dr. Pankaj Kumar, © Patrick Geßner, 2022
Portrait of Prof. Dr. Carola Schulzke und Dr. Pankaj Kumar, © Patrick Geßner, 2022

Formate hydrogenases are enzymes that convert the anion of formic acid (CHO2) into CO2, thereby releasing protons and electrons. A subgroup of these enzymes uses the reactivity of molybdenum or tungsten ions for this purpose. These metalloproteins also catalyse the reverse reaction and are thus of particular interest for two reasons: a) they can potentially be used to reduce the greenhouse gas CO2 and b) they could be used to release hydrogen as a source of energy from the very small and light storage molecule formic acid.

Following on from the latter, Dr Kumar intends to develop bio-inspired chemical systems that can be used to catalytically form hydrogen under mild conditions. In order to enable the oxidation of the formate in one half of the reaction cycle, metal-containing compounds are to be developed whose composition resembles the active centres of the natural molybdenum and tungsten enzymes. In the second half of the cycle, compounds containing nickel, cobalt or iron ensure that the released protons and electrons are converted into molecular hydrogen. Finally, both metal units are to be linked together to enable a single catalyst to perform the two reactions. Dr. Kumar brings expertise in hydrogen production to Greifswald and draws on the Greifswald working group's many years of experience in bioinorganic and biomimetic molybdenum and tungsten chemistry.

Dr. Kumar completed his doctorate in 2013 at the prominent Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati , which he followed up with a three-year postdoctoral stay in Seoul/South Korea in the group of Kenneth Karlin, a world-renowned protagonist in bioinorganic chemistry. Dr. Kumar has been Assistant Professor since 2016.

Further information

Bioinorganic Chemistry


Contact at the University of Greifswald

Prof. Dr. Carola Schulzke
Institute of Biochemistry/Bioinorganic Chemistry
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 4, 17489 Greifswald

Tel.: +49 3834 420 4321



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