Professor Christopher Hardacre CChem FRSC
Winner: 2022 Tilden Prize
The University of Manchester
For outstanding contributions to the areas of liquid and gas phase heterogeneous catalysis.
Celebrate Professor Christopher Hardacre
Professor Hardacre’s group focuses on the use of solids as catalysts for the production of commodity and fine chemicals and the removal of pollutants. Catalysts are materials that can lower the energy required for chemical reactions to proceed at the required rate. The group uses them in both the liquid phase and gas phase. The research aims to produce chemicals and fuels more efficiently and selectively. As well as having a direct application in the chemicals and energy sector, catalysis is key to achieving net zero.Read winner biography
Professor Chris Hardacre is Head of the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Manchester. He obtained a PhD from Cambridge University in 1994 and moved to Queen’s University, Belfast in 1995 and was appointed as Professor of Physical Chemistry and became Director of Research of the Centre for the Theory and Application for Catalysis (CenTACat) in 2003. In 2016, he moved to the University of Manchester. Through his work in ionic liquids research, he was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Encouraging Innovation Award with Merck Chemicals Ltd and was part of the team to win the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education. In 2013, he was the inaugural winner of the IChemE’s Andrew Medal for catalysis.
Professor Hardacre’s group has strong research interests in catalysis and ionic liquids.
How did you first become interested in chemistry?
I first became interested in chemistry in primary school asking questions about how soap worked and what the material was on the inside of the hot water tank. This led to me getting a chemistry set at home and my mother allowing the use of the kitchen table as my lab bench until it got singed!
Who or what has inspired you?
Initially, I was inspired at home and at school. I had great chemistry teachers at school and my dad was a PhD chemist working on rocket fuel for the MoD. The teachers at school were keen to do practicals and this encouraged me to take up chemistry at A-level and at university. During and after my PhD I have been fortunate to have had some excellent mentors who have inspired and encouraged me to progress with the research we do.
Why is chemistry important?
Chemistry is key to life and to the world we live in. Without chemistry much of what we use and do would not be possible. Chemistry is also pivotal for our future in the drive towards net zero and achieving this in a timely manner. Without chemistry, we cannot achieve our aim to reduce the effects of climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels.
Why do you think teamwork is important in science?
Scientific advances require teams of scientists and engineers working together to develop technology that can make a practical difference. These transformational activities rely on a combination of expertise and, to make effective progress, teamwork is vital. Often each expert will speak a different language and so communication is critical. But with the right leadership and the team all understanding their roles and respecting each other’s opinions, rapid and significant progress can be achieved in science.