Sustainable Catalysis for Clean Growth

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Chemistry


Catalysis is the process of speeding up a chemical reaction by action of a catalyst, a substance that triggers this acceleration without itself being used up. This ability to efficiently convert one substance into another is hugely important to the economy and society; it serves both to add value to simple chemical building blocks by increasing complexity (for example, converting gas and oil fractions into products ranging from fuels and solvents to materials and pharmaceutical products) and to alleviate harmful waste streams (for example, catalytic convertors in car exhausts). It is estimated that catalysts are involved in the manufacture of over 80% of the materials around us and account for over 20% of UK GDP. But this does not mean that catalysis is a mature technology. There are still fundamental unanswered scientific questions and a growing need for new catalyst technologies, especially related to achieving clean growth for industry. The catalysts used today have been honed over decades to work with specific, fossil fuel-derived feedstocks. As we move to a low carbon, more sustainable, net-zero future, we need catalysts that will convert biomass, waste and carbon dioxide into valuable products. The current generation of catalysts cannot achieve this.

This project will develop these new catalysts, providing a key technology to achieve net zero carbon ambitions. Achieving this objective requires fundamental scientific advances. It also requires these advanced to be translated into real technologies to deliver their impact and bring value to the business partners. Inspired by nature, breaking down the traditional silos of catalysis research, and embracing emerging areas such as electrification, we will bring together a wide range of catalysis expertise, computation, materials science and advanced analysis to uncover new science and contribute towards achieving net zero - perhaps the most pressing objective for us all.


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