How to Get Involved

Ellie and Scott working on JM project photo

Below are some of the access programmes to use the facilities at Harwell.  Please see our website  for further information about getting involved with UK Catalysis Hub activities:

Block Allocation Group (BAG) Programme Mode Application to Diamond Light Source:

The UK Catalysis Hub BAG aims to provide members of the Hub network and all groups doing catalytic science in the UK with frequent and flexible access to B18, sending out two calls for proposals per cycle. One advantage of sending out two calls for proposals per cycle, is that our users can obtain beamtime on a rapid turnaround, which has been especially useful when additional measurements are required on a short timescale to finish pieces of work for publication.

The dates of calls for proposals are set by Diamond light source and will be sent to the Mailing list, to sign up for the mailing list here.

We are committed to increasing the user base of XAFS in the catalyst community, and so in part the BAG works as a training scheme. The team at Harwell guides new users through the proposal and experimental stages, showing them the potential of XAFS for their projects and training them on the analysis of their data.


We operate by sending out two calls for proposals per cycle, which are assessed by a panel comprising representation from Diamond, Hub scientists, and representatives from two other institutions (changed on a rolling basis). The latter positions are filled by researchers in catalysis one of whom usually has XAFS experience. The BAG allocation prioritises access based on:

  • scientific excellence,
  • feasibility,
  • attracting new users and new areas of catalytic science, and
  • maximising efficiency.

Both in situ /operando studies and standard ex situ (rapid access and proof of concept) measurements are facilitated, with generally an even mix of the two proposal types being awarded time. Due to our aim of attracting new and inexperienced users to XAFS, proposals are not often accepted ‘as is’ but redesigned to make the best use of time and provide the user with the measurements they need. In this way, we plan the BAG shifts to facilitate the greatest number of projects efficiently. No single user is awarded more than 3 shifts in any one call and we limit experienced users of XAFS to short bursts of time: in this way the BAG should not serve as an ‘easy’ access to B18 for those who should apply through the Direct Access Route.

It is important to note that that for heavy users of synchrotron facilities this method of access will only play a small contribution to the amount of time they require. Their role within the BAG proposal is to provide the interface between the inexperienced members and Diamond, enabling a larger cross section of the UK Catalysis Hub network to benefit from the techniques available. These users may receive small amounts of flexible access, where required, to assist in finishing research projects and hasten subsequent publications.

Visit the BAG page on our website for information on how to apply for BAG time and the process at

Track record

Through SP8071, SP10306 and SP15151; 75 days (excluding reassigned days) have been received. Since the first beamtime allocation period, 60 articles have been published; the growth is shown in Figure 1. This is an average of 1.5 days beamtime per paper. We note that it takes approximately 6 months for the first papers from each allocation to be published.