A new £14 million investment into the UK’s Catalysis Hub (launched in 2013) that will support a nationwide research programme was announced yesterday by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Centred at the Research Complex at the Harwell campus in Oxfordshire, the Hub will co-ordinate a collaborative research program across the UK. The Hub’s collaborating partners include SES members the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Southampton, Queen Mary University of London, UCL and Imperial College London. The University of Bath, Cardiff University, and The University of Manchester will lead three of the Hub’s themes, with 25 universities directly involved in projects and over 45 involved in a wider network across the catalysis community.

The Hub is focused on building the UK economy through designing new catalysts and processes for clean water, sustainable energy and low carbon, resource efficient manufacturing of fuels, plastics and chemicals. Catalysts speed up chemical reactions making key processes feasible, and economically viable. They are the heart of nearly all industrial processes and products. Catalytic processes are also key technologies in developing new sustainable products and energy. Examples include using waste CO2, degradable plastics and recycling, replacement of fossil-based with bio based platform chemicals, treatment and use of wastewater to produce energy and sustainable energy processes.

Professor Lynn Gladden, EPSRC’s Executive Chair and previously Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Cambridge, said “Catalysis is important for UK and global industry, generating £50 billion a year for the UK economy, as well as intellectual property for big and small UK companies and universities.”

The three interrelated themes of the Hub are:

  • Optimising, Predicting and Designing New Catalysts
  • Catalysis at the Water-energy Nexus
  • Catalysis for the Circular Economy and Sustainable Manufacturing

The UK Catalysis Hub was created with EPSRC funding with the aim to first establish a world-leading, comprehensive and coordinated programme of catalytic science in the UK; secondly to develop new knowledge and promote innovation in and translation of catalytic science and technology; and thirdly to enable the UK to regain and retain its world leading position in catalysis.

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