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New Institute to catalyse development of clean technology

12 October 2010

A new combustion technology that could allow vehicles to become more efficient and less polluting is being explored by the newly established Cardiff Catalysis Institute at Cardiff University.

Professor Stan Golunski, Deputy Director of the Institute, in collaboration with engineers at Brunel and Birmingham Universities is investigating the feasibility of an on-board fuel reforming system to improve combustion and recover waste heat.

The system will be based on the incorporation of a catalytic reactor in the exhaust to produce gas mixtures rich in nitrogen and hydrogen that can be fed back to the engine.

The team will study how the addition of these mixtures affects engine combustion, performance and emissions with the Institute identifying stable catalysts that will perform the reforming reaction.

Initially the research will focus on diesel engines but the potential of fuel reforming to achieve benefits in gasoline engines will also be evaluated.

"The technology that we are developing with our colleagues at Brunel and Birmingham has the potential to recover waste heat, and therefore improve fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions," said Professor Golunski.

It is hoped that the results from the study will lead to new advances in engine design which can be used in conjunction with other technologies currently used to improve CO2 emissions, such as weight reduction of vehicles, start-stop fuelling, and the switch to hybrid and diesel cars.

The project is one of the first undertaken by the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, which is part of the University’s School of Chemistry. Officially launched on Wednesday 13th October, the Institute aims to establish a centre of excellence for catalysis within the UK that builds upon the current strengths in research at Cardiff.

The opening address of the launch event will be given by Professor Robert Grubbs of the California Institute of Technology, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on catalysis which led to the ruthenium-containing Grubbs’ catalyst for a wide variety of applications in green chemistry.

Professor Graham Hutchings director of the Institute said: "Chemistry at Cardiff already has excellence in heterogeneous catalysis, homogeneous catalysis and biocatalysis. The aim is to bring these together within a single institute so that they can grow and provide the focal point for interdisciplinary interactions within Cardiff and externally with academia and industry.

"We look forward to welcoming our invited guests to the launch event and to advancing the School and the University’s reputation in this important area of research."


Notes to editors

1. The School of Chemistry is one of the largest chemistry schools in the UK, and both teaching and research benefits from a multi-million pound investment in laboratories and other facilities. It currently has over 200 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The joint strengths are of academic excellence within the School and extensive industrial contacts outside. The School has received the highest "Excellent" rating in the ongoing independent government assessment of teaching quality.
The School conducts industry-relevant research, focusing on six areas: surface science and catalysis; structural and computational chemistry; organic synthesis; co-ordination and speciation chemistry; magnetic resonance spectroscopy; and materials chemistry. Research income has increased more than threefold in recent years, including a substantial increase in industrial funding. It is also home to two of only six national centres that are funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. These are the X-ray Diffraction Centre and the ENDOR centre.

2. Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.

3. For further information
Victoria Dando
Public Relations
Cardiff University
Tel: 02920 879074