Catalysis at the Water Energy Nexus

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Severe water shortages in parts of the world have been increasing over the last twenty years due to the increased usage in agriculture, changes in the climate, increases in the global population and utilisation in industrial processes and it is estimated that over 660m people do not have access to clean water. The issue of water supply is now as much of a challenge as developing more sustainable energy supplies and these are intimately linked. Catalysis is key to underpinning technology addressing the issues of clean water, more efficient utilisation/valorisation of water systems and the use of water as a reaction medium or reagent. It is recognised that there is a clear priority across government and the Research Councils in the area of water. The Hub model provides a unique opportunity to tackle this through experimentation coupled with the incorporation of life cycle analysis and simulation science. The proposed work programme brings together aspects of the energy, environment and biocatalysis themes of the Hub in phase 1 into a coherent new theme which addresses the use of catalysis in the usage, valorisation and treatment of water in the chemical and energy industries. In particular it aims to provide catalytic solutions to enable energy efficient catalytic processes using water as a reagent or solvent for fine chemical production. Utilisation of waste water as a resource for chemicals and fuels as an alternative to waste water treatment. Increasing the efficiency of waste water treatment for produced waters from across the energy and chemical industries and, importantly, life cycle and sustainability assessment of these processes. This then will address some of the disadvantages of the current approaches, including the need to use visible light, as well as employ the technology for less traditional applications.

The project work packages include:

  • Treatment of High Ionic Strength Waste Water;
  • Catalytic treatment to reduce biofouling of membranes;
  • Energy-efficient catalytic advanced oxidation processes for water and waste water treatment;
  • Catalytic transformations in and with water;
  • Energy and fuels from waste water;
  • Life cycle sustainability assessment;
  • Modelling.

Read more about this project at