Sustainable Catalysis for Clean Growth

Lead Research Organisation: CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

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.

Publications

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Radley E (2023) Engineering Enzymes for Environmental Sustainability. in Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)

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Deng Y (2023) Engineering an Oxygen-Binding Protein for Photocatalytic CO2 Reductions in Water. in Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)

 
Description "Controlling selectivity of catalysts through the interaction of cobalt with promoters: a computational modelling investigation"
Amount £118,483 (GBP)
Funding ID 2730879 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2022 
End 09/2026
 
Description CCP5 Industrial Placement: Computational investigation of anatase TiO2 surface modification by chloride ions in aqueous solution
Amount £2,225 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2022 
End 06/2023
 
Description Catalytic approaches to the recycling of carbon fibre reinforced composite materials
Amount £80,500 (GBP)
Funding ID 2709753 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2022 
End 12/2025
 
Description Collaboration with development team for the FHI-aims software package 
Organisation Duke University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In the current project, we have worked with the core FHI-aims development team to expand software capabilities. The core focus has been contributing an infrastructure to transfer large data objects in/out of the quantum mechanical calculation workflow without requiring to write the data to static memory. The functionality has been realised, and now we are looking to apply this functionality to challenges in embedded-cluster modelling.
Collaborator Contribution Our collaborators have provided their support in time and expertise, without which the project would have been far less productive. We are yet to arrange for full secondments to the Duke group, but this is the future intention, where greater knowledge transfer will occur.
Impact Nothing to date.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Hosting of Nuffield Summer Studentships 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The activity involves the hosting of A-level students interested in studying Chemistry for a 4-week placement in the research group. The placement students are from historically under-represented groups at University (Minority groups, or no previous family history of university attendance). The placements allow the students to see and participate in the university working environment, and involves working on a small project that is then formally documented and presented at an award day organised for the Nuffield Foundation. In 2021, we remotely hosted 3 students in the group from across Wales. In 2022, we hosted 3 students in person in the group from the local area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
 
Description Launch of Cardiff's Net Zero Innovation Institute 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Launch of a new institute for Cardiff which will bring together research across all aspects link to achieving net zero. Catalysis is a key part of this, and this was an opportunity to raise the profile of catalysis with decision makers and industry. The Prosperity Partnership was used as an example of how business and the university can work together. The event was a series of talks and round table discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description RMS UK-EM Annual Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 200 people attended to learn about new capabilities for in situ electron microscopy, the development of which was supported by this grant
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://www.rms.org.uk/rms-event-calendar/2023-events/em-uk-23.html
 
Description University open day for prospective students 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The open day involved engaging with visiting students looking at furthering their eduction in science and engineering at the University of Manchester, specifically towards materials science. A bubble raft experiment, made by bubbling air into a soap solution, was demonstrated to the students to simulate the close-packed crystal structuring of atoms in materials. This was used to initiate discussions with the audience on materials and provide a platform for their questions regarding the subject matter and/or univerrsity study in general.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Y10 Insight into Engineering & Materials Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Year 10 pupils from local schools visited the university for an "Insight into Engineering & Materials Day" involving tours, lectures and activities designed to encourage interest in these subjects. My role involved hands-on demonstrations of material properties, as well as answering questions about materials science and university life. Pupils seemed to enjoy the activities and demonstrated enthusiasm for STEM subjects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022