Green and Versatile: Catalytic Production of Recyclable Co-polymers from Epoxides and Anhydrides

Lead Research Organisation: CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
Department Name: Chemistry


Plastics are an indispensable to modern-day society, yet their environmental footprint has come under increased scrutiny owing to their persistence in landfill and marine environments. Therefore the development of biodegradable and recyclable plastics is a key objective in the pursuit of a circular economy of plastics, that will continue to allow plastics to benefit society but without the negative environmental cost.

This project will be to develop the catalytic production of co-polymers that contain ester-linkages, exemplified by epoxide-anhydride co-polymers. The principal aim will be to enhance the substrate scope by developing new catalysts that are not limited in compatible substrates. We will also establish collaborations with multi-disciplinary partners to probe the use of these co-polymers in real-world applications.

Planned Impact

Catalysis is crucially important to the UK economy, with products and services reliant on catalytic processes amounting to 21% of GDP and 15% of all exports. The UK is scientifically strong and internationally recognised in the field, but the science base is fragmented and becoming increasingly specialised. The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Catalysis will overcome these problems by acting as beacon for excellent postgraduate training in Catalysis and Reaction Engineering with a programme that will develop an advanced knowledge base of traditional and emerging catalysis disciplines, understanding of industry and global contexts, and research and professional skills tailored to the needs of the catalysis researcher.

Although the chemical sector is an immensely successful and important part of the overall UK economy, this sector is not the only end-user of catalysis. Through its training and its research portfolio the Centre will, therefore, impact on a broad range of technologies, processes and markets. It will:
(a) provide UK industry with the underpinning science and the personnel from which to develop and commercially leverage innovative future technologies for the global marketplace;
(b) allow the UK to maintain its position as a world leader in the high-technology area of catalysis and reactor engineering;
(c) consolidate and establish the UK as the centre for catalysis expertise.

Likewise, society will benefit from the human and intellectual resource that the Centre will supply. The skills and technologies that will be developed within the Centre will be highly applicable to the fields of sustainable manufacture, efficient and clean energy generation, and the protection of the environment through the clean-up of air and water - allowing some of the biggest societal challenges to be addressed.


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