Our expertise, extensive facilities and research infrastructure allow us to successfully tackle the most demanding challenges.
A selection of current research and projects within the Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI) include:
We are leading the way in how gold is used in heterogeneous catalysis, and investigating how the synergy between gold and other precious and transition metals can be controlled. Former director of the CCI, Professor Graham Hutchings, is one of the worlds pre-eminent authority on heterogeneous catalysis, pioneering the innovative catalytic use of gold nano-particles.
Selective oxidation of, for example alkanes and alkenes, is a long standing challenge in catalysis primarily because of rapid consecutive conversion of the target product. Our work is exploring new and original approaches to solve this problem.
One such methodology is the in-situ generation and consumption of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) for utilisation of short-chain alkanes, oxygenated compounds, aromatics, bio-renewables and the treatment of waste water ("greywater").
One of the major challenges to the development of biorenewable chemical industry, is the identification and focus of the key intermediates and platform chemicals. Biofuels can be greenhouse neutral if efficient methods for their production are developed.
The petroleum refinery in place today is benefiting from years of research in optimization for the production of value added chemicals. The implementation and development of biorefinery is still under investigation. While a consensus on the key intermediates to be utilized in biorefinery is yet to be reached, the most common reactions like oxidation, hydrogenation, and dehydration will definitely play a role in their development.
Within the NOVACAM project, we are developing the fundamental catalytic reactions required for the processing of biomass into useful chemicals and fuels. The processing of biomass, such as cellulose, involves significantly different chemistry to that applied to traditional fossil based carbon sources; notably the oxygen content must be reduced while retaining carbon and hydrogen if these resources are to be upgraded.
Catalytic Routes to Intermediates for Sustainable Processes (CRISP)
CRISP is an EPSRC funded project in collaboration with Liverpool, Aston and Imperial College London universities, which seeks to identify and develop new heterogeneous catalysts for the conversion of cellulose derivatives to high value platform and commodity chemicals. Specific targets are the sustainable production of intermediates for manufacture of polyamides and acrylates, which could replace petroleum feedstocks.
Our aim in the CRISP project is to improve the viability of bio-adipic acid production using new heterogeneous catalysts, producing high purity chemical streams with improved process economics, energy efficiency, carbon utilization and less environmental impact. We will explore glucose – as a starting material for the production of adipic acid using heterogeneous catalysts.
Our role in such pioneering photocatalysis work can be seen through collaborative work via the European Union FP7 project on photocatalysis.
An example project (PCATDES) was lead by staff member Prof Phil Davies, who put together a cross disciplinary team of scientists and engineers from teams based in Britain, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand securing approximately €3.9 million of EU funding to develop a cost effective and sustainable, solar powered method for mineralising the recalcitrant organic pollutants that biological methods cannot remove from the waste water produced in agricultural industries.