Catalysis is, perhaps, the single most important and pervasive interdisciplinary technology in the chemical industry, and certainly one of the areas with the largest societal impact.
However, it is often an underestimated or invisible process technology. Catalysts ensure that raw materials and energy are used efficiently in the production of a range of large scale industrial and specialty chemicals, plastics and fuels.
Catalysis and catalytic processes (direct or indirect) account for about 25% of world GDP. Therefore catalyst technology, combined with reactor design, is one of the most important areas of potential technology-based efficiency improvement. The development of new catalytic processes based on new more effective catalysts and bio-catalysts can transform manufacturing processes. They can help decrease process temperatures and boost energy efficiency, while reducing cost and increasing competitiveness.
Innovative catalysis can have an impact in a wide range of applications including new raw materials and feedstocks, new industrial biotechnology processes, waste reduction and recovery, enhanced energy storage technologies, providing alternative fuels for transport and in nano-structured materials.
SusChem’s priorities in this area include catalysts for the conversion of CO2 to chemical building blocks or fuels; catalysts to directly produce renewable hydrogen from sunlight (photo-catalysis); new catalytic technologies to enable recycling of plastic waste; more robust and versatile catalytic systems for processing variable feedstocks; new catalytic systems allowing softer reaction conditions (for example lower pressure and/or temperature); new insights into fundamental reaction steps and the kinetic parameters of catalysis; high throughput experimentation methods in catalyst development; and computational modelling methods for rational development of catalytic materials.