Our daily lives are dependent on products produced by the materials and chemical industries, but with feedstocks based largely on non-renewable sources, especially fossil carbon, and with production and utilization cycles often involving disposal after use. A sustainable, prosperous and net zero carbon society will require us to move to sustainable, renewable feedstocks and circular production and utilization cycles. This shift presents enormous challenges which can only be met by major innovations in chemical, especially catalytic science.
This lecture will discuss how catalytic science is rising to this challenge, by innovations in, for example, the transformation of carbon dioxide into fuels and chemicals, and the sustainable manufacture of plastics and pharmaceuticals. We will focus on the key scientific and technological areas where intensive research and development will be needed to achieve the sustainable production of the fuels, materials and medicines on which we will continue to depend.
The festival forms part of the public engagement activities of the Department of Physics at Oxford University.