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The businesses unlocking the power of science to combat climate change

Johnson Matthey is a technology leader that is providing sustainable solutions to industries driving towards net zero

As humanity wakes up the huge challenges of the climate crisis, science is taking a leading role in providing the answers that will decarbonise our societies  – which puts a science and technology company like Johnson Matthey in a leading role. 

The company drives innovation through what is effectively a trio of competing stakeholders: the needs of the business to run profitably and efficiently, the needs of the industrial customer with a business strategy and the end user with needs of their own, plus the parameters of technology itself. 

Elizabeth Rowsell, Corporate Research and Development Director at Johnson Matthey says that the key to achieving the company’s goals comes down to finding the right partnerships. 

‘The world today is facing a huge amount of challenges. Our research and development is at the heart of our vision to build a cleaner and healthier world for today and future generations.’

Rowsell is a key figure in connecting the company’s customers to products and services developed from the practical research of chemical engineers, biologists and data scientists. ‘We work very closely with Academic institutions, innovation centres and our customers, and that helps us become more inventive by working with smart people around the world.’

Johnson Matthey has a leading position in a range of technologies that will help societies reach their net zero targets, including the production of clean hydrogen, battery materials for electric vehicle applications, and hydrogen fuel cells primarily for heavy duty automotive use. ‘If we are to meet our greenhouse emission targets, it’s really important that we decarbonise transportation,’ says Mike Petch, Technology Director at Johnson Matthey’s fuel cell business. 

Petch predicts a move towards a hydrogen economy, citing the technology’s use in heating and electricity, including the portability of fuel cells which, weighing just five kilos, will give a car some 300 miles of range. 

Rowsell says that the fuel cell is just one example of the company’s innovations helping companies build a greener future, for which there is an increasing appetite: ‘We work with a range of markets and sustainability is important in every single one of them.’ 

Rowsell explains that it is especially important, when working at the cutting edge of possibility, for the company to connect what a product is used for through each stage of development and evolution to the atomic level in material design. ‘Making that connection is sometimes difficult,’ says Rowsell, ‘but it’s essential, and if you do that well, then you really are absolutely great at innovation.’ 

As Johnson Matthey shows, businesses are able to leverage technology effectively to both attain sustainable competitive advantage and create a greener future.





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