UK Catalysis Hub


Initial Energy Catalysis Projects

Project 1 Fuel Cells beyond methanol and ethanol – 3rd generation direct fuel cells using oxygenates as fuels.

The project brings together groups spanning materials synthesis, electrocatalysis, photocatalysis, engineering  with the aim to develop new fuel cell technology to use of oxygenates (>C2) as fuels.  It will combine the design of the new anode catalysts with the investigation of alternative oxidants and finally the production of a demonstrator unit based on the best technology developed within the project. It spans both the catalysis by design theme (DFT modeling and synchrotron/neutron source usage) and the energy theme. It requires a multidisciplinary approach and encompasses theory/experiment and science/engineering. 

Project 2 New Approaches to Reforming

Three related aspects of reforming will be examined requiring process engineering, catalysts/nanoparticle synthesis, photocatalysis, gas phase heterogeneous catalysis  and materials characterization.  The aim is to develop reforming technology which will be much more energy efficient than current technology through combined heat management via new heat transfer media, storage and release of energy through looping technology and combining thermal and photo initiated gas phase catalytic reactions. The project spans the catalysis by design, energy and environmental themes. Materials developed in activating CO2 and characterizing materials will be developed for dry reforming technology, for example. The project is at the interface between science and engineering and success is dependent on strong collaborations between the groups involved. 

Research will commence from 2nd December, 2013. However, the Investigators have held a detailed planning meeting to map the scope of the research. It should be noted that the research to be undertaken under the Catalyst Hub grant will be complementary to the work to be performed by five other post-doctoral workers, all working on aspects of chemical looping covering: (i) Chemical looping oxygen production using novel oxides (ii) Identification of new novel oxides), (iii) Practicable formulation of carriers for durability, (iv) Reactor modelling for chemical looping with oxygen uncoupling, (v) Perovskite materials, e.g. for water-gas-shift reaction and use with conventional looping materials. The work undertaken on the Catalyst Hub grant will therefore have strong gearing derived from these complementary projects.

Project 3 Biofuels

The project brings together groups with expertise spanning materials synthesis, kinetic & mechanistic analysis, homogeneous catalysis, Ionic Liquids (IL), reactor engineering and modeling/fluid dynamics to develop improved catalytic processes for biofuels synthesis. New catalytic materials will be developed possessing improved hydrothermal stability and pore structures to minimize internal mass transport for biofuels synthesis via aqueous phase reforming (APR) and hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of pyrolysis oil, with process optimization aided by modeling and fluid dynamic studies. Novel routes to bio-butanol will also be investigated using immobilized homogeneous complexes. The project spans both the catalysis by design, chemical transformations and the energy theme and requires a multidisciplinary approach encompassing theory/experiment and science/engineering

Project 4 Integrated system assessment

This project brings together groups across the entire Catalysis Hub to provide an over-arching sustainability assessment of the technological developments undertaken across the catalysis by design, energy and environmental themes. The assessment will integrate Life Cycle Analysis with Energy analysis and advanced optimization methods to assess the performance of different disciplinary theme projects, their environmental hot spots, material utilization and energy resource utilisation against benchmarked baseline cases. The project will start with the development of the LCA framework for the benchmarked baseline cases while new technology developments are being investigated within the Hub and new results become available to feed into a comparative analysis. The project is at the interface between science and engineering, it links the experimental/theoretical developments undertaken within the Hub to a process system engineering approach, and its success is dependent on strong collaborations between the groups involved.