Seminars - Physics and Astronomy - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Upcoming seminars: 2017

If you would like to give a Friday seminar please contact Dr Chris Gordon by email.

Friday, 24 February

11:00 am – 12:00 pm Rutherford 531,  Level 5

Prof Dave Frame, Victoria University

Climate Change Research

Climate change is many things to many people but from a mainstream policy perspective it involves the provision of a global public good (a stable climate). Physical climate modelling can provide inputs of fundamental importance for this task, by giving measures of the scale of the issue, and by highlighting those aspects which matter most. This talk will discuss a series of physical science points of high policy relevance (such as the centrality of cumulative emissions; the issues of short-lived vs long-lived greenhouse gases, emergent climate change, and the dissimilarity between sea-level rise and temperature change) and will briefly discuss some of the public goods dimensions of the problem. 

Biography: Professor Dave Frame is Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute (NZCCRI) at Victoria University of Wellington. He has a background in physics, philosophy and policy. Prior to returning to New Zealand, Dave was Senior Research fellow at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, where he was also Hugh Price Fellow in Geography at Jesus College. Following his PhD in Physics at the University of Canterbury, Dave worked as a policy analyst at the New Zealand Treasury. He was a Lead Author on the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and his research has often been published in the world's leading climate research journals.

All Welcome

Friday, 3 March

11:00 am – 12:00 pm Rutherford 531,  Level 5

Dr Anna L. Garden, Department of Chemistry, Otago University.

From Fertilisers to Fuels– A Computational Approach to Heterogeneous Catalysis

Heterogeneous catalysis encompasses a class of catalytic reactions in which the phase of the catalyst is different to that of the reactants. Typically the catalyst is a solid while the reactants are either liquids or gases. Heterogeneous catalysis plays a vital role in a number of existing processes, such as fertilizer production, fuel cells and catalytic converters in automobiles. Over 90% of all reactions in the chemical industry rely on heterogeneous catalysis. Furthermore, heterogeneous catalysis represents the key to unlocking the dream reactions to achieve a sustainable future, such as photocatalytic water splitting and synthetic enzymes. However, given that the catalytic reactions of interest are often complex, multi-step reactions and there are a vast number of potential catalysts, finding the optimum catalyst for a given reaction is a daunting task.

The use of computational techniques can greatly aid in rational catalyst design, in both understanding the factors governing reactivity and in searching for new and more efficient catalysts. In this talk I will present research in which I have been involved on two examples of heterogeneous catalytic reactions, namely electrochemical ammonia synthesis and hydrogen evolution on platinum nanoparticles. I will then discuss issues related to structural determination of nanoparticle catalysts, using gold nanoparticles as an example. The methods and advantages of a computational approach to heterogeneous catalysis will be highlighted and future directions discussed.

Background: The Garden research group is led by Dr. Anna Garden, lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Otago, which is situated in Dunedin, New Zealand. Our research interests are focussed on using a computational approach to investigate catalysis of small molecule reactions on both extended and nanoparticle catalysts. For more information on recent and current research projects, please see here.

All Welcome

  • Department of Physics and Astronomy
    University of Canterbury,
    Private Bag 4800,
    Christchurch 8140,
    New Zealand.
    Phone: +64 3 364 2523
    Fax: +64 3 364 2469
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