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Hands-on at the exhibit

  • Come and explore catalysis in action - generate hydrogen from water and use it to power racing cars!
  • See electron microscopy images of catalysts for yourself, and use a microscope control panel to remotely operate a real instrument in Cardiff!
  • Learn about the atomic scale imaging techniques available from electron microscopy and high power X-ray sources.

Find out more

Catalysis is everywhere – it makes chemical reactions more efficient and faster, so we can produce more products that we need for a cheaper price. The fuel in your car has been made from crude oil, using a series of catalytic reactions to allow the fuel to flow and burn correctly, delivering energy to your car. The gases produced are processed in the car’s catalytic converter which uses catalysis to transform polluting carbon and nitrogen oxides that are the result of burning the fuel into environmentally benign compounds. Over 80% of the nitrogen in the proteins in your body has been derived from fertilizers produced using catalysis. 

We are working in the ‘Green Chemistry’ research field, working to realise a sustainable future for the world. We want to understand  catalysis and the materials we use to produce everyday goods and energy – and to produce fuels and other chemicals using renewable resources from plant material. We want to move to a more sustainable economy where the things we use and the energy we need is produced in a renewable way.

Because catalysis is a molecule by molecule process, we need to understand how it works and study materials at the level of individual atoms using very powerful ‘electron microscopes’. We also use very high energy light to look at catalysts at this scale while they are working, to understand and improve catalyst materials. We are recreating industrial conditions in the lab and are working out what makes a good or bad catalyst. We have discovered that the most promising catalysts are solids containing molecules called nanoparticles.

Our research is revealing more about catalysis and how it can help us move towards a more sustainable future.

Find out more at the UK Catalysis Hub.

Presented by: Cardiff UniversityRutherford Appleton LaboratoryCatHubEuropean Synchrotron Radiation FacilityFinden Ltd and Yara International