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NES8406 : Contemporary Catalysis: Principles and Applications

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Simon Doherty
  • Lecturer: Dr John Errington
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module aims to:

(i) instill the basic principles of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis currently used in synthetic organic chemistry and major industrial processes;

(ii) highlight the environmental threats arising from the reliance on petrochemical resources;

(iii) show how organometallic and metalorganic chemistry is being used to develop efficient catalysts for alternative "green" and sustainable processes;

(iv) provide an awareness of contemporary research through by introducing evolving concepts and analysis of recent papers from leading groups.

Outline Of Syllabus

Homogeneous Catalysis
The basic principles and elementary steps required to understand homogeneous catalysis will be covered using selected examples from the range of key transformations: rhodium and cobalt-catalyzed hydroformylation, rhodium and ruthenium-catalysed hydrogenation, alkene oligomerisation and polymerization, metathesis, isomerizations, palladium catalyzed C-C and C-heteroatom cross coupling, carbonylation of electrophiles and alkenes, metal catalysed C-H activation, rhodium catalyzed cyclization and palladium catalyzed oxidation of alkenes and heteroatom metalalation. Current challenges and emerging areas will be explored; potential topics will be selected from the following: Homogeneous catalytic conversion of CO2 to formic acid, methanol and higher hydrocarbons, feedstocks and renewable resources, recent developments and applications of photocatalysis. The industrial relevance and importance of selected reactions will be highlighted and discussed.

Heterogeneous Catalysis and Related Chemistry
The importance of catalysis will be highlighted through a discussion of the challenges facing the chemicals industry, the principles of “green” chemistry, the use of the E-factor and the need to develop new sustainable processes. A brief historical overview will be presented, followed by descriptions of selected large-scale industrial processes such as Haber-Bosch ammonia synthesis, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, CO2 conversion to methanol, alkene polymerization, alkene metathesis and associated examples of molecular studies aimed at understanding the relevant small molecule activation chemistry. The principles of surface organometallic chemistry (SOMC) will be introduced and selected examples will illustrate how this can be used to produce uniform distributions of isolated reactive sites for detailed studies of surface reactivity. The relevance to process innovation using alternative feedstocks will be emphasized throughout.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Assessment preparation and completion.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00PiP lectures, text published on VLE, problem solving sessions and feedback on 'Literature Tasks'
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00Office hour drop in sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00Background reading of module topics set during semesters and working on worksheets
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time80:304:00Problem solving, short presentation and discussion sessions
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Much of the key material is conceptual and is suited to delivery either as conventional lectures of via online lectures. The online module talks are designed to complement the lecture material and provide the students with an increased appreciation of the topics involved. Detailed analysis of research papers provides an element of blended learning aimed at research level skills.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1001A100Two sections A and B.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises1MA formative assessment involving problem solving and a literature task on Canvas will provide the students with an opportunity to test their knowledge and understanding and identify their strengths as well as areas of weakness that need to be targeted for further development.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination will assess the student's knowledge and understanding of the principles, development, and practice of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic processes. There will be 1 examination with two sections each worth 50% (100% in total). Study Abroad students may request to take their exam before the semester 1 exam period, in which case the format of the paper may differ from that shown in the MOF. Study Abroad students should contact the school to discuss this.

A formative assessment on Canvas will provide the students with an opportunity to test their knowledge and understanding and identify their strengths as well as areas of weakness that need to be targeted for further development.

Reading Lists