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Top Chemical Engineering Award

14 November 2007

An image Winners of Top Chemical Engineering Award

IChemE winner highlighted for chemical and process engineering advances

Catalysis researchers at Cardiff University have won a top industry award, presented at the Institution of Chemical Engineers’ (IChemE) awards ceremony 2007.

The research team from the School of Chemistry (Jonathon Bartley, Albert Carley, Graham Hutchings and Stuart Taylor), received the Envirowise Green Chemistry Award for research into the development of new and more sustainable ways to develop and use catalysts in the process industries.

Catalysts for the oxidation of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide are commonly used in filters to remove carbon monoxide in submarines, fire fighters’ breathing apparatus and even spaceships. The Cardiff University research will ensure that this life saving catalyst now works more efficiently, still saving lives but with a less damaging effect on the environment.

The catalysis research team has developed catalysts prepared using an anti-solvent precipitation process using supercritical carbon dioxide. The new route not only delivers catalysts with enhanced performance, but it also provides a greener route for catalyst preparation. Conventional methods of catalyst preparation often rely on precipitation of the catalyst precursor from an aqueous solution, which results in a considerable quantity of liquid waste that must be processed. The new route using supercritical carbon dioxide does not produce any aqueous waste, and therefore, provides a more environmentally friendly preparation method.

The potential of the research has been recognised as the IChemE awards ceremony is designed to highlight cutting-edge innovation and excellence in chemical engineering and coincides with the Institution celebrating the 50th anniversary of receiving its Royal Charter status. The event was attended by over 400 scientists, chemical and process engineers and their guests at London’s Hilton Metropole hotel.

“Chemical and process engineers across a huge range of industry sectors are working hard to develop a cleaner, greener and more sustainable world for generations to come,” said David Brown, chief executive, Institution of Chemical Engineers. “Our awards, in this our 50th anniversary year, highlight some of the groundbreaking work that is going on across the globe in all types of organisations, from centres of academia, to SMEs and large global brands.”

The research on developing more active and selective heterogeneous catalysts and improving the fundamental understanding of these systems is an important research theme within the School of Chemistry and a variety of research programmes are ongoing in this exciting area.