16 Feb 2024

Meet the WISE Fellows

On a mission to develop sustainable catalysts using synchrotron-based methods.

In this series of interviews, you will meet the WISE Fellows. This time you will meet Uta Hejral, who has joined Chalmers University as an Assistant Professor.  You will also be able to find out more about their research here.

Catalysts play an important role in the industrial production of materials. More than 90 % of all industrial chemicals are produced with the help of catalysts. Therefore, the chemical industry in general would benefit greatly from the development of more efficient and abundant catalyst materials that allow more energy-saving processes according to Assistant Prof. Uta Hejral.

Joining Chalmers
Uta joined Chalmers University in September this year. She did her PhD at DESY (Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron) in Hamburg and co-pioneered the development of a surface x-ray diffraction technique for the structure determination of model catalyst nanoparticles and surfaces at work. During her first postdoc at Lund University, she combined this method with other operando techniques. She did her second postdoc at the Fritz-Haber Institute in Berlin. There she focused on the study of catalytic reactions that are essential for a sustainable society, such as water splitting or CO2 hydrogenation into the fuel methanol.

Sustainability aspects
– My research paves the way for taking direct action against climate change, which is one of the biggest challenges of today’s society. We aim at facilitating energy storage in form of molecules to compensate for downtimes in energy production of renewable energy systems, as well as at identifying ways to convert greenhouse gases like CO2 and CH4, says Assistant Prof. Hejral.

– Photovoltaic plants or wind farms are other areas where I see my research being implemented. There they can use the electricity gained with the help of solar and wind power to drive on-site electrolysis to store energy in the form of green hydrogen, says Assistant Prof. Hejral.

-When starting your own research group in materials science related research, I think that it is fantastic to be part of WISE and such a network and I believe together we can really make an impact, which is very inspiring, concludes Assistant Prof. Hejral.