Thermal Catalysis

Thermal catalysis involves the use of heat to accelerate a chemical reaction in the presence of a catalyst. The catalyst facilitates the reaction by providing an alternative reaction pathway with a lower activation energy, allowing the reaction to occur more rapidly at a given temperature. 

Various metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium serve as thermal catalysts in the catalytic converters used in automobiles. The elevated temperature of the exhaust gases provides the thermal energy needed for the catalytic converter to function. The catalyst facilitates full conversion of the harmful substances like carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and unburned hydrocarbons into less harmful substances, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen, and water.

At PartCat, we have developed a wide range of capabilities in thermal catalysis ranging from carbon dioxide conversion into methane and methanol, dry reforming of methane, Fischer Tropsch synthesis, carbon monoxide oxidation, and waste pyrolysis. Furthermore, we have combined our expertise in photocatalysis to develop state-of-the-art photothermal systems with enhanced product selectivity and reduced operating temperatures.

Competitive advantage

  • Amongst the highest reported catalytic rates for CO2 conversion into methanol or methane 
  • Thermal systems can be integrated with photothermal technology to alter reaction selectivity and improve conversion
  • Direct harnessing of solar energy can be used as the main energy input for CO2 conversion reactions


  • Enabling technology for CO2 conversion to value-added chemicals to support industry decarbonisation
  • Conversion of waste CO2 (e.g. contained in flue gas) into value-added chemicals and fuels such as methane and methanol, as well as longer chain hydrocarbons through Fischer Tropsch synthesis
  • Treatment of CO and other polymer waste products associated with solar panels
  • Reduced energy input for CO2 conversion reactions by incorporation of solar energy to provide heating and catalyst activation

Successful applications 

  • Demonstration scale integrated photo-thermal CO2 reduction system producing methane at a rate of up to 30 L / hour (SHINE 2.0 system)
  • Multiple lab-scale reactor systems which enable light integration for high-rate methane and methanol production, Fischer Tropsch synthesis, carbon monoxide oxidation, waste pyrolysis, and methane reforming

Capabilities and facilities

  • Various pressurised reactor and product detection systems for CO2 reduction into methane, CO, and methanol
  • Photo-thermal reactor systems used to determine the impact of light on reaction rates and pathways
  • Nanoparticle synthesis and characterisation techniques
  • Demonstration scale reactor system for scale-up and testing