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MERCUR Funds Three New Collaborative Research Projects

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Photomontage from photos of the buildings of University Duisburg-Essen, Ruhr University Bochum and TU Dortmund. © MERCUR
MERCUR supports joint research projects of the UA Ruhr-Universities TU Dortmund, Ruhr-University Bochum and University Duisburg-Essen.

The Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR) has awarded funding of around €500,000 for three new collaborative research projects within the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr), in which scientists from TU Dortmund University are also involved. The projects were approved in July. The participating researchers are using the MERCUR funding to establish long-term collaborations within the UA Ruhr. The Mercator Foundation is providing a good half of the funding, the universities themselves are financing the other part on a pro rata basis.

In the project “ELI-VR – Embodied Learning in Virtual Reality: Spatial and Sensomotoric Experience of Mental Number Line and Multi-Digit Number Processing for Elementary School Children”, researchers want to improve math learning in elementary school children. At school, mathematical content is mostly taught in a cognitive way on the basis of abstract and symbolic representations. This poses considerable challenges for many elementary school children because not only cognitive but also motor and sensory processes play an important role in learning. That is why Professor Jörg-Tobias Kuhn from the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at TU Dortmund University and Professor Maic Masuch from the University of Duisburg-Essen are exploring new possibilities offered by virtual reality, which allows to connect spatial experiences of one’s own body with mathematical phenomena. Playful interaction can also reduce the fear of making mistakes and arouse interest in trying out new things. Children will be involved in the development process. Project funding of around €300,000 has been awarded.

The project “Combinatory Expression Systems for Complex Genes – A Toolbox for Efficient Catalyst Identification” is dedicated to new biocatalysts. These are needed in order to fully realize the potential of the bioeconomy and industrial biotechnology for more environmentally friendly processes in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Biocatalysts from microorganisms with a high guanosine (G)/cytosine (C) content pose a particular challenge in this context, as this prevents simple manipulation by means of standard molecular biology. What is needed here are building blocks – known as biobricks – that are well characterized, can be used reliably and are easily assembled and modified according to engineering principles. For this purpose, Dr. Katrin Rosenthal from the Department of Biochemical and Chemical Engineering at TU Dortmund University and Professor Dirk Tischler from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) are building up a joint biobrick collection within the project. The result will be a toolbox for synthetic biology that can also be used by other partners and will enable further research work, such as the rapid screening of new biocatalysts and the development of new production systems in the manufacturing of natural products and active ingredients. Funding of €100,000 has been awarded.

In the project “Synthesis, (Phase) Behavior and Catalysis Activity of Laser-Generated Nanoparticles in Liquid Multiphase Systems”, researchers are exploring innovative catalyst systems for a wide range of new reactions. Catalysis is a key technology for the sustainable and direct synthesis of platform chemicals. As homogeneous catalysts, transition metals allow high conversion rates and selectivities, while heterogeneous catalysts exhibit excellent processability and good recyclability. Quasi-homogeneous nanoparticle catalysis combines the advantages of high selectivity and processability and has enormous potential as a result, provided that the separation and recycling of the nanoparticles are efficient and successful. Here, what are known as liquid multiphase systems offer a possible approach. These require phase-selective nanoparticles dispersed in selectable solvents. While conventional syntheses only meet these requirements to a limited extent, laser-based colloid synthesis allows nanoparticle preparation in a wide range of solvents. However, these have not yet been used as quasi-homogeneous catalysts in multiphase systems. In the new project, Dr. Thomas Seidensticker from the Department of Biochemical and Chemical Engineering at TU Dortmund University and Dr. Sven Reichenberger from the University of Duisburg-Essen are now combining both technologies for the first time in order to use laser-generated quasi-homogeneous nanoparticle catalysts in a recyclable way in technically important hydrogenation reactions with liquid multiphase systems. Funding of €100,000 has been awarded.

University Alliance Ruhr

Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), TU Dortmund University and the University of Duisburg-Essen have been working closely and strategically together under the umbrella of UA Ruhr since 2007. By joining forces, the partner universities’ performance is systematically upgraded. Reflecting the motto “better together”, there are meanwhile over 100 cooperative projects in research, teaching and administration. With over 120,000 students and almost 1,300 professors, UA Ruhr is one of Germany’s largest and top-performing centers of science and research.

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is “Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen” (closer to South Campus), and from B 1 / A 40 “Dort­mund-Dorstfeld” (closer to North Campus). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from North Campus to South Campus by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at North Campus and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät”). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station (“Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof”) and Düsseldorf main station via the “Düsseldorf Airport Train Station” (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 15 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station “Stadtgarten”, usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At “Stadtgarten” you switch trains and get on line U42 towards “Hombruch”. Look out for the Station “An der Palmweide”. From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop “Dort­mund Kampstraße”. From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop “Dort­mund Wittener Straße”. Switch to bus line 447 and get off at “Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on North Campus. One (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”) is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the “Technologiepark” and (via South Campus) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at North Campus and offers a direct connection to South Campus every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent “Technologiepark”.

Site Map of TU Dortmund University (Second Page in English).