Catalysis for net zero

Catalysis: the essential tool for achieving resilience in a net zero carbon society

Achieving a net zero carbon society is impossible without catalysis; catalysts are central to efficient chemical processes and manufacturing, controlling both the rates and energy demand of chemical reactions. For society, catalysis is essential to deliver the materials, energy vectors, fertilizers, medicines, electronics and products we need. It is also essential to implement and deliver the net zero agenda, from ‘green’ hydrogen, to large-scale energy storage, from a re-imagined fully sustainable chemical industry to green steel – advances in catalysis will deliver these future manufacturing industries.

At present, the UK chemical industry is based on the remnants of a 20th century model, highly dependent on fossil carbon. The basic building blocks are a range of around 20 platform chemicals derived from oil or natural gas (e.g. methanol and ethene) and from these chemicals it is possible to make the multitude of high value chemicals used in pharmaceuticals, fragrances, personal care, home care, food, agriculture, plastics and materials sectors. The current chemical industry is, however, interwoven with fossil fuels supply. The drive to net zero carbon provides the UK with the ideal opportunity to decouple chemicals from fossil energy and to focus on the lower volume, higher value chemicals and sustainable energy storage sectors. With new catalysis, we can develop the clean manufacturing and products of the future: fit for a sustainable and high-tech set of future industries including core industries, such as healthcare products, as well for future sectors such as automation; and to ensure that the electrification of transportation is delivered by polymer materials which also embrace net zero carbon.

A circular economy depends on the development and application of a large variety of new catalytic processes. Innovation in catalysis is key to delivering a sustainable circular economy moving the UK to net zero combined with resilience to achieve clean growth.

Find out more about the ways the UK Catalysis Hub is working to achieve a net zero carbon society below:


Dr Cristina Stere

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Energy Theme highlights: Probing the role of a non-thermal plasma (NTP) in the hybrid NTP-catalytic oxidation of CH4 The release of methane into the atmosphere must be stringently controlled as it has a warming potential at least 21 times higher than that of CO2, being, therefore, a major contributor to…

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Dr Scott Rogers

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Design Theme highlights: Tandem Site and Size Controlled Pd Nanoparticles for the Directed Hydrogenation of Furfural The Design theme of the UK Catalysis has undertaken a wide range of fundamental projects related to the understanding of catalytic processes, design of better catalysts and in particular developing the use of large…

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