A*STAR sets up facility for catalysis and materials sciences research at NUS


Singapore, Dec 13, 2011:  The Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (ICES), a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) has set up a dedicated X-ray Absorption Facility for Catalysis Research (XAFCA) at National University of Singapore (NUS)-Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS). The first-of-its-kind research facility in South-east Asia is able to perform advanced research on catalysis, materials and environmental sciences as announced at the official opening.

The XAFCA is an X-ray absorption facility using synchrotron radiation as a tool for catalyst characterisation. Catalysts are the work horse of the chemical and petrochemical industries. About 90 percent of all chemical processes rely on them. Through the catalyst characterisation process, it enables researchers to get a deeper understanding of the nature of the active catalytic sites on the catalyst during the reaction, allowing them to unravel the structural, chemical and electronic properties as the reaction proceeds. This level of understanding is crucial to develop novel and improved catalytic materials.

With the opening of the facility it will also allow the study of other materials with applications in important fields such as electronic, energy storage, batteries and fuel cells. The new XAFCA facility will enable companies based in the region to partner ICES to develop novel energy storage materials for improved and effective batteries and devices. It can also provide relevant information for a better understanding on how cathode and anode materials work, allowing for the development of advanced energy storage systems with higher capacity and power, durability and at a lower cost.

Dr Keith Carpenter, Executive Director, ICES, said, “The XAFCA facility provides a value proposition for the chemicals industry—through the study of catalytic reactions, we can understand the behaviour of the active sites during the reaction. By understanding exactly how the catalyst works, the selectivity and robustness can be improved to give higher yield and reduced manufacturing costs in many chemical industries coupled with reduced environmental impact.”

Professor Mark Breese, Director of SSLS at NUS, said, “The opening of the beamline facility marks a milestone for us by expanding our capabilities and integrating with in-situ analysis. Since SSLS was commissioned in 1999, its scope of analytical applications and number of beamlines have had increased. I am confident this effort will create a vibrant research environment that will drive advancement in synchrotron radiation instrumentation.”


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