Atsushi Urakawa is originally from Japan and was educated in an international environment. He obtained BSc degree in Applied Chemistry at Kyushu University (Japan) including one-year stay in the USA. Afterwards, he continued his education in Chemical Engineering at Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) for MSc study and further at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) for his PhD study. In 2006, he undertook a position as Oberassistent (Senior Scientist/Lecturer) in the group of Prof. Alfons Baiker at ETH Zurich. Since January 2010, he joined ICIQ as Group Leader where he leads a research group with particular emphasis on the rational development of heterogeneous catalysts and processes aided by in situ and operando spectroscopic methods.
He is enthusiastic about fundamental as well as highly applied research, always seeking for new ideas and strategies to make a difference in industry to guide the technological trends towards greener society by means of innovative catalytic processes. His current major research activities are centered on catalysis for environmental protection (e.g. automotive catalysis) and synthesis of future chemical energy carriers such as hydrogen and methanol. Notably, his team actively researches on CO2 conversion catalysis and recently reported the most efficient process to produce methanol and dimethyl ether from carbon dioxide and hydrogen using high-pressure approach with granted patents.
The practical relevance of the catalysts and processes developed by his team is of utmost importance and he actively collaborates with industry partners. Furthermore, to facilitate rational catalyst and process design, his team develops new spectroscopic and analysis tools to gain fundamental insights into the catalytically active sites and active species under catalysts’ working (operando) conditions, aiming to establish catalyst structure-activity relationship.