Why Chemistry?

Sustainable energy, healthcare, and recycling are some of the biggest challenges facing society today. Academics from the School of Chemistry at Birmingham discuss their research relating to these issues and some of the ways that they are helping to tackle them.

Advanced materials

  • Creating advanced materials using the principles of nature to improve healthcare solutions and energy storage.
  • Improving the sustainability and reducing the ecological impact of everyday materials.
  • Making materials from molecular and nanoscale building blocks which have very specific properties.
Why chemistry: advanced materials
Why chemistry: battery technologies

Battery technologies

  • Developing ways to replace and recycle critical elements.
  • Establishing a Lithium-ion battery recycling centre in the UK.
  • Improving battery lifetimes, effectiveness and efficiency to support the development of new technologies, from phones to electric cars.

Medical diagnosis

  • Creating technologies to facilitate personalised healthcare.
  • Developing nanotechnologies to allow quicker and earlier diagnosis of diseases.
  • Moving testing from laboratories into doctor’s surgeries to streamline diagnosis.
Why chemistry: medical diagnosis
Why chemistry: recycling


  • Using sustainable plant-based materials to replace everyday plastics.
  • Creating new ways to recycle plastics in order to improve their performance and longevity.
  • Developing new ways to recycle CO₂ to create new liquid fuels with high efficiency.

Tackling disease

  • Developing molecular scale diagnostics to improve early cancer detection.
  • Discovering new drug molecules and identifying how they fight disease.
  • Overcoming drug resistance for diseases such as tuberculosis.
Why chemistry: tackling disease