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Research project Chemical Energy Transformations and Catalysis

There are many base chemicals of importance for the catalytic production of fertilizers, plastics, detergents, pharmaceuticals and fuels. Currently, the feedstock for the chemical industry is entirely based on fossil sources with an emittance of 8% of the worlds footprint of greenhouse gases (not including when fuels is being burned).

There is an urgency to transform the chemical industry away from fossil sources and base it on captured CO2 and H2 from electrolysis of water. A future green transformation of the chemical industry, similar to the one with green steel, where wind or solar energy drives electrolytic cells is therefore a possibility. Catalysts are at the heart of these transformation currently based on fossil resources into products for use in everyday life. Naturally the catalysts in use today have been developed over a century with fossil resources in mind. In this research activity we suggest to further unravel the reaction mechanisms that enable novel catalysts to drive the reaction at radically lower pressures and temperatures that is better suited for a sustainable society. We are using a novel Stockholm built photoelectron spectroscopy instrument at the PETRA III synchrotron that operates at high pressures to measure the state of surface of various catalyst and molecular species on the surface at real reaction conditions. The goal is to understand the reaction induced dynamical changes of the catalyst and the mechanism. Typical reactions is Haber Bosch to produce ammonia from nitrogen and reduction of carbon dioxide to useful products mitigate climate change.

Project members

Project managers

Anders Nilsson


Department of Physics
Anders Nilsson


David Degerman


Department of Physics