Critical catalyst materials research receives funding from Horizon 2020


The research aims to provide alternatives to critical metals used in certain chemical reactions and energy conversions.

Critical metals refer to especially rare platinum group metals (PGMs). Research at Aalto University is conducted by professors Adam Foster at the School of Science and Kari Laasonen at the School of Chemical Technology.

Ultra-small transition metal nanoparticles are explored in order to achieve optimal catalytic performance with earth-abundant materials. The emphasis is on industrially-relevant chemical reactions and emerging energy conversion technologies in which PGMs play an instrumental role, particularly in the context of hydrogen and synthesis gas fuels.

‘Nearly all chemical industrial processes in the EU rely heavily on a reliable supply of key metals for efficient production, yet many of these are now considered critical. This is because there is no primary production within the EU and the major sources are in areas of extreme geopolitical uncertainty´, says Professor Adam Foster.

´Furthermore, the most obvious replacements from our current understanding are often other critical metals. The CritCat project seeks to find new materials that are just as effective as existing metals, without any of the supply problems’.

Aalto University takes a double role in this project, with Prof. Kari Laasonen focusing on understanding the chemical reactions of these new materials, while Prof. Adam Foster looks into optimising their structure and function using a combination of quantum approaches and machine learning.

The multinational project involves cooperation with industrial partners as well as research groups in USA and Japan. Tampere University of Technology acts as a coordinator.

The half a million funding comes from Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation of the European Commission.