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Global innovation award for gold catalyst

9 November 2015

innovation award for gold catalyst

Cardiff Catalysis Institute picks up global award for developing a pioneering new catalyst to manufacture vinyl chloride

University researchers have been recognised by the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) for the development of a novel gold catalyst.

The Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI), along with leading chemicals company Johnson Matthey, were given the Innovative Product of the Year Award at the IChemE’s Global Awards ceremony in Birmingham (5 November).

The award recognised the design and commercialisation of a new, non-polluting gold catalyst for the manufacture of vinyl chloride – a major monomer used in the production of plastic.

Research undertaken by the CCI has shown that gold nanoparticles are the best catalysts in the reaction used to produce vinyl chloride, and provide a much cleaner, more sustainable alternative to the commercial catalyst, mercuric chloride, that is currently used.

Over 20 million tonnes of vinyl chloride monomer are manufactured each year, primarily using the mercuric chloride catalyst. Not only is the supply of mercury limited, it is also globally recognised that mercury is seriously harmful to human health and the environment.

Gold offers a cleaner, safer and more sustainable alternative.

As a result of the work of the CCI, Johnson Matthey has built a factory in Shanghai to manufacture large amounts of the gold catalyst that is now being used in full production of vinyl chloride monomer.

On receiving the award, Professor Graham Hutchings, Director of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that our work on developing this pioneering new catalyst has been recognised by the Institute of Chemical Engineers.

“It is testament to the hard work of everyone at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute that we’ve been recognised amongst a list of esteemed professionals from academia and industry.

“Together with Johnson Matthey, we have developed and commercialised a catalyst that we believe will have a significant impact on our health, environment and general wellbeing.”      

The IChemE Awards celebrate excellence, innovation and achievement in the chemical and process industries.  Established in 1994, the Awards attract interest from all over the world.