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Creating a stronger, greener UK

22 January 2013

Leading University catalysis experts have received a £3M funding boost as part of a major new hub designed to support economic growth, reduce CO2 emissions, produce cleaner water and generate more sustainable energy.

The Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI), led by Professor Graham Hutchings FRS in the Cardiff School of Chemistry, is a world leader in Catalysis. Catalysis is crucial to the development of economically and environmentally sustainable manufacturing processes.

The Cardiff team will receive £3.19M to lead the environmental element of the research – to help take waste products and turn them into useful materials.

Professor Hutchings said: “The Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI), in the School of Chemistry is a world leader in its vital field. The application of catalysis is crucial to the development of economically and environmentally sustainable manufacturing processes – and we are delighted to be a key part of this major new UK hub.

“With this funding, we will look at how to take ‘waste’ materials such as carbon dioxide and use them to make useful materials, with specific focus on cleaning up atmospheric pollutants, water purification for re-use, protecting the environment and cleaner manufacturing.”

Components generated through catalysis are used at some stage in the production of most materials and finished products, impacting on the manufacture of everything from fertilizers to medicines.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is investing £12.9M to create UK Catalysis Hub, a UK-wide research programme into catalytic science.

David Delpy, Chief Executive of EPSRC, said: “The UK has some outstanding researchers in the field of Catalysis, and it is a vital field for UK industry with a major role to play in the creation of new or improved processes.

“That is why EPSRC is strategically investing in this Catalysis Hub. Building on our previous initiatives, it will draw academics and institutions together to further enable cross-disciplinary research, and create a critical mass of activity which will enhance the international standing of the UK catalysis community and help it address the major challenges faced in the Physical Sciences, Energy, Manufacturing and Healthcare themes.”

The UK Catalysis Hub, based at the Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) in Oxfordshire, will coordinate multi-disciplinary scientists and chemical engineers from over 30 different universities.

The Hub will enable scientists to collaborate on projects, share insights, expertise and developments; facilitate world-class research and attract new funding streams. Researchers will work at different universities, and the RCaH will offer training and research.

Professor Graham Hutchings added: “Catalysis is a key area of science which can tackle the big problems. We will use catalysts in non-traditional ways and in new innovative areas.”

Companies based in the UK play a big role globally in all these areas and generate wealth of £50 billion per annum as well as intellectual property for UK plc. Catalysis is critical to the country’s chemical, energy, pharmaceutical, food, personal care and materials sectors; development of catalysis is also key to emerging sectors such as industrial biotechnology.

The UK has world-class strength and capability in catalysis and process engineering, with EPSRC having funded £28.5 million of catalysis research from 2006-2011. The new research programme builds on this expertise and support.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said:  “Catalysis science is vital for many areas of the UK economy, from food production to pharmaceuticals.

“This investment will provide a focal point for the UK’s leading expertise in this area, helping scientists further develop their skills and undertake cutting edge research to drive sustainable growth.”

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences.

EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science.

This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture.

 

Related links:

The School of Chemistry

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council