UCL Department of Chemical Engineering


Catalysis and Reaction Engineering

Chemical reactions lie at the heart of processes where molecules are transformed from raw materials to useful products and energy.

For the economic utilisation of such chemical transformations the unit where they are performed (the reactor) needs to be carefully designed accounting for kinetics, hydrodynamics, mass and heat transfer. Catalysis plays a significant role in many of these transformations, leading to more efficient and greener processing routes. Catalysts are complex materials that have to satisfy many criteria on multiple scales, in order to be successfully used in catalytic processes. For this purpose an integrated approach, taking into account sustainability and scalability considerations, and combining modelling and experiments, catalysis science and chemical engineering is required.  Phenomena at all length scales interact, and for this reason simultaneous catalyst and reactor design is the best route towards optimal performance. We employ a multi-scale (in space and time) design approach that ranges from the microscopic atomistic scale to the macroscopic scale of the reactor. Modelling and experiments are utilised at the various length scales, including sophisticated spectroscopic techniques, quantum and statistical mechanics, process intensification tools and inspiration from nature. Particular areas of interest within the group include catalytic pyrolysis, electrocatalysis, microreactor technology and photocatalysis. 

The reactor technologies, catalytic materials and fundamental knowledge developed by the group find applications in diverse areas. These include manufacturing of chemicals, chemical intermediates, pharmaceuticals and nanomaterials, which find use from consumer products to healthcare. A comprehensive range of applications in the energy domain, such as hydrogen production from water, driven by solar energy or electrolysis, fuel cells, batteries, production of fuels from waste materials or carbon dioxide, and applications that seek to increase energy efficiency are also explored.

We collaborate extensively with colleagues from various departments at UCL, as well as other Universities and Research Centres from UK and overseas. Our research is funded by the Research Councils, InnovateUK, Charities and industrial sources.