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:

Selective Polymerisation

The research investigated using the Hub funding remains at an early stage as would be expected with EPSRC funded fundamental research. Nonetheless, the target area – making useful products from carbon dioxide, is one in which there is potential for both environmental and commercial impact. It is relevant to note…

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Methanol to hydrocarbons (MTH) for Net Zero

Methanol to hydrocarbons (MTH) is an important petrochemical process due to its ability to replace conventional fossil fuels (e.g., coal and crude oil) based gasoline, olefins and aromatics production with carbon neutral renewable methanol feedstock, which can be derived from CO2 reduction with H2O. The MTH process can reduce the net…

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Watch now – Catalysing green hydrogen generation

When: 25 November, 15:00 GMT Hydrogen will be a key energy carrier as we transition at scale to renewable sources of energy. Additionally, hydrogen is also a vital industrial chemical critical for food processing, fertiliser manufacturing, metal refining and oil upgrading. Electrochemical water splitting is the most mature and promising…

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Direct fixation of CO2

Company UK Catalysis Hub,  Cardiff Catalysis Institute (Cardiff University), Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Europe, Steag, Hydrogenics, i-deals, National Institute of Chemistry Slovenia, Carbon Recycling International, DIME University of Genova, University of Duisburg Essen, RWE This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under…

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Dr Catherine Davies

Dr Catherine Davies photo

Environmental Theme: Soot Control The growth in market share of diesel vehicles, which currently stands at around fifty-five percent of new car sales within the EU, has had the beneficial effects of lowering CO2 emissions and improving fuel economy, but has led to locally high concentrations of NOx gases and…

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Dr Cristina Stere

Cristina Stere spacifb highlight image

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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