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Max Planck Centre on the Fundamentals of Heterogeneous Catalysis (FUNCAT)

The strength of heterogeneous catalysis at Cardiff together with the significant investment in the Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI) by the university combined with extensive relationships with key MPG MPIs with excellence in heterogeneous catalysis, led the CCI to a point where it was possible to make a competitive bid for a Max Planck Centre in heterogeneous catalysis at Cardiff.

As a result the Max Planck Centre on the FUNdamentals of Heterogeneous CATalysis (MPC-FUNCAT) has been established with activities commencing in mid-2019. This centre is now housed in the Translational Research Hub (TRH) as part of the University’s £300 million capital development plan.


The science of the MPC-FUNCAT comprises three themes with an overarching structure facilitating the collaborative research between the three MPIs (Max Planck Gesellschaft – specifically in the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (CEC), the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Gesellschaft (FHI) and the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung (KOFO), and the CCI.

The organisational structure of the MPC-FUNCAT is shown below, arranged around three main scientific areas;

  1. From single site to particle.
  2. Acetylene as a feedstock for chemical production.
  3. The importance of dynamics.
MPC-FUNCAT organisational structure

MPC-FUNCAT involves ca. 20-25 researchers both in the CCI and MPG partners. During the first part of the operation the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic did not permit us to exchange personnel. However, from the outset we set up collaborative research in all three themes and exchanged catalysts samples and research data.

In April 2022 we held our first interactive research meeting in the FHI Berlin which was attended by over 40 participants and as a result we have since been exchanging staff as part of our joint research. Caucusing in Berlin permitted the senior MPC team to focus the research directions and as a result a Viewpoint Article on the activities of the MPC FUNCAT was published in Angewandte Chemie on-line in November 2022.

2023 event

In March 2023 the delayed opening of MPC-FUNCAT will take place at an event in Cardiff involving the Presidents of Cardiff University and the MPG.

Following this a scientific conference will be held over two days involving over 40 research members of the centre. Plenary lectures will be given by Beatriz Roldán Cuenya (FHI), Serena DeBeer (CEC), Matthias Scheffler (FHI-NOMAD) and Stuart Talyor (CCI) alongside lectures from post-graduate students and post-doctoral research staff.