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This comprehensive book dealing with contemporary catalysis addresses students and professionals at graduate and postgraduate level. The idea for this textbook originated from the center for doctoral training, Critical Resources Catalysis, CRITICAT, at the universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt, in which we train young scientists from diverse backgrounds in the various fields of catalysis.

As an enabling technology, catalysis is most commonly not noticed in daily life, despite its huge importance for the world economy and for a more sustainable development. To most people, the only example that comes to mind might be the automotive exhaust gas convertor, employing noble metals such as Pt, Pd and Rh. Still, the modern world as we know it today would not exist as such without applied catalysis. Catalysis is of crucial importance for the production of bulk chemicals such as acetic acid, and the world population would probably be five times smaller if the production of ammonium nitrate via the Haber–Bosch process making use of Fe-based catalysts was not there. Depending on the type of product, i.e. bulk commodity chemical, fine-chemical, complex bioactive molecule or pharmaceutical, different forms of homogeneous, heterogeneous or biocatalysis can be applied.

Modern catalysis research, as well as applied catalysis in industry, is a truly multidisciplinary field. A team of experts, each with their unique set of knowledge and experience, is needed in order to develop a chemical process all the way from an invention in the lab to a production scale plant. In today’s process development, this integration of knowledge starts at a very early stage. In order to do so, efficient communication is key and experts have to be able to understand each other’s subject specific language and terminology; even more, they also need a good basic understanding of the concepts and methodologies of those respective disciplines.

This is why we have chosen this integrated approach to teach catalysis. In a very concise way, the basic principles and concepts of importance to all different fields of catalysis will be treated with references to the respective textbooks if needed. The major part of this book is then devoted to the treatment of the three main areas of catalysis, i.e. heterogeneous, homogeneous and bio catalysis, together with computational aspects and reaction and reactor engineering. Of course, in the development and production of various catalytic materials, one has to analyze and characterize them. This is why treatment of all major state-of-the-art characterization methods cannot be omitted. The treatment of current developments in process intensification and introduction to life-cycle analysis round up the picture.

The sustainability of chemical production is highly dependent on all these aspects and are therefore all discussed in this textbook.

Paul Kamer, Joris Thybaut, Dieter Vogt

Catalysis plays a key role in chemical conversions by making them faster and more selective. Life itself would be unthinkable without the catalytic activity of enzymes. Furthermore, in more than 80% of the industrial conversions, catalysis is pivotal for the preparation of the desired, highly sophisticated products from a wide range of feedstocks, which is responsible for a very large part of our GDP.

A sustainable society requires efficient use of matter and energy and consequently demands selective new methodologies for the preparation of advanced materials. The required selectivity resulting in high atom economy will only be feasible by development of new scientific and technological tools. It is a prerequisite to use the elegance of biological systems within the domain of man-made products. On the other hand, chemistry and engineering are progressing enormously, primarily due to the introduction of new methodologies in characterisation, synthesis, separation and modelling.

In spite of the advanced technology available, man-made catalysts are extremely simple entities compared to natural and modified enzymes. Still, many important fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals are produced by traditional heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis. In part, this is because efficient enzymes for many industrially important chemical transformations such as CO- and alkene insertions are lacking. Our society is facing tremendous challenges with a growing world population, depleting fossil resources and climate change. Catalysis will have to play a central role in addressing these challenges that can only be exploited successfully if new conceptual approaches are developed to tackle the grand challenges in a multidisciplinary approach.

In 2013, the UK Catalysis Hub was established, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), using a collaborative and inclusive approach encompassing and combining all fields and aspects of catalysis and engineering. The Hub plays a central role in providing educational and outreach activities in catalysis and has links with a number of EPSRC funded UK Centres for Doctoral Training including the CDT in Sustainable Chemical Technologies (Bath), the CDT in Catalysis (Cardiff, Bath and Bristol), the EPSRC CDT in Critical Resource Catalysis (St Andrews, Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt) and the Molecular Modelling and Materials Science Doctoral Training Centre (University College London). In addition, the Hub actively supports two graduate schools on catalysis (Catalysis: Fundamentals and Practice Liverpool/Catalysis Hub summer school; Bath Industrial Catalytic Processes course) and we actively encourage participation of students at these events.

This book ‘Contemporary Catalysis, Science, Technology and Applications’ uses the approach engendered in the UK Catalysis Hub. Many of the ‘Grand Challenges’ our society is facing will have to be addressed by the next generation of scientists, who must be able to think across borders of scientific disciplines and work in a collaborative, holistic manner. These are the very students that the Hub is aiding in training. This book approaches catalysis in such a way and is one of the first books in the field of catalysis addressing this very diverse and complete set of sub-disciplines. It will be of great value to graduate schools in the field of catalysis, enabling the broad general training of students in all aspects related to catalytic processes and encouraging them to take a leading role in competitive, technological, environmental and economic developments.

Obviously, a book of this wide scope cannot cover all the aspects of catalysis in full detail, but provides an excellent tool to familiarise students and researchers with all the aspects of importance to contemporary catalysis. The book provides ample references to primary literature and more detailed textbooks, rendering it a very complete work for teaching and training purposes, as well as a useful reference book for catalysis researchers.

C. R. A. Catlow, M. G. Davidson, C. Hardacre, G. J. Hutchings, N. J. Turner

Principal Investigators UK Catalysis Hub

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