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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S030468/1
Title: New trimetallic nanoparticles as catalysts for the conversion of carbon dioxide to renewable fuels
Principal Investigator: Hutchings, Professor G
Other Investigators:
Catlow, Professor R Taylor, Professor SH Logsdail, Dr AJ
Kiely, Professor C Bowker, Professor M Beale, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BASF BP Cogent Power Ltd
Finden Ltd Haldor Topsoe A/S Johnson Matthey
Max Planck Institutes MCEC SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corp)
SASOL (International) Selden Research Ltd Shell
Syngaschem BV (Global) TOTAL Yara International ASA
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: Cardiff University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2019 Ends: 30 June 2024 Value (£): 1,530,291
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Carbon Capture & Storage
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Chemicals
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Mar 2019 Intl Centre to Centre Fulls Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The Cardiff Catalysis Institute, UK Catalysis Hub, Netherlands Centre for Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion (MCEC, Utrecht), and the Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max Planck Society (FHI, Berlin) will use a novel theory-led approach to the design of new trimetallic nanoparticle catalysts. Supported metal nanoparticles have unique and fascinating physical and chemical properties that lead to wide ranging applications. A nanoparticle, by definition, has a diameter in the range one to one hundred nanometres. For such small structures, particularly towards the lower end of the size range, every atom can count as the properties of the nanoparticle can be changed upon the addition or removal of just a few atoms. Thus, properties of metal nanoparticles can be tuned by changing their size (number of atoms), morphology (shape) and composition (atom types and stoichiometry, i.e., including elemental metals, pure compounds, solid solutions, and metal alloys) as well as the choice of the support used as a carrier for the nanoparticle. The constituent atoms of a nanoparticle that are either part of, or are near the surface, can be exposed to light, electrons and X-rays for characterisation, and this is the region where reactions occur. Our lead application will be catalysis, which is a strategic worldwide industry of huge importance to the UK and global economy. Many catalysts comprise supported metal nanoparticles and this is now a rapidly growing field of catalysis. Metallic NPs already have widespread uses e.g., in improving hydrogen fuel cells and biomass reactors for energy generation, and in reducing harmful exhaust pollutants from automobile engines. Many traditional catalysts contain significant amounts of expensive precious metals, the use of which can be dramatically reduced by designing new multi-element nanocatalysts that can be tuned to improve catalytic activity, selectivity, and lifetime, and to reduce process and materials costs. A major global challenge in the field of nanocatalysis is to find a route to design and fabricate nanocatalysts in a rational, reproducible and robust way, thus making them more amenable for commercial applications. Currently, most supported metal nanocatalysts comprise one or at most two metals as alloys, but this project seeks to explore more complex structures using trimetallics as we now have proof-of-concept studies which show that the introduction of just a small amount of a third metal can markedly enhance catalytic performance.

We aim to use theory to predict the structures and reactivities of multi-metallic NPs and to validate these numerical simulations by their synthesis and experimental characterisation (e.g., using electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy), particularly using in-situ methodologies and catalytic testing on a reaction of immense current importance; namely the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide to produce liquid transportation fuels. The programme is set out so that the experimental validation will provide feedback into the theoretical studies leading to the design of greatly improved catalysts. The use of theory to drive catalyst design is a novel feature of this proposal and we consider that theoretical methods are now sufficiently well developed and tested to be able to ensure theory-led catalyst design can be achieved.

To achieve these ambitious aims, we have assembled a team of international experts to tackle this key area who have a track record of successful collaboration. The research centres in this proposal have complementary expertise that will allow for the study of a new class of complex heterogeneous catalysts, namely trimetallic alloys. The award of this Centre-to-Centre grant will place the UK at the forefront of international catalytic research.

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Organisation Website: http://www.cf.ac.uk