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Andrea Folli

Dr Andrea Folli


University Research Fellow in Electrocatalysis

School of Chemistry

Translational Research Hub, Floor 3, Room 3.22, Maindy Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Available for postgraduate supervision


Andrea Folli is a University Research Fellow in Electrocatalysis and a member of the management team of Cardiff University Net Zero Innovation Institute, i.e., the Innovation Institute of Cardiff University tasked with delivering the vital innovation, collaboration, and technological advances needed to achieve Net Zero, see here.

He has published more than 50 academic papers, one book chapter, and one patent application. His current work focuses on the investigation of structure-activity relationships in photoredox and electrocatalysis. The group make use of advanced Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectroscopy and associated hyperfine techniques in combination with electrochemical methods and electrochemical spectroscopies to improve our understanding of solar to chemical energy conversion and production of solar fuels, catalysts for green chemistry, and radical chemistry for disinfection and biomedical applications.

As a management team member of the Cardiff University Net Zero Innovation Institute (NZII), Andrea coordinates matters related to ECRs, representing their views, and advocating for their needs, perspectives, and training.


















Book sections


Research interests

My research interests focus on the investigation of structure-activity relationships in catalysis for green and sustainable chemistry. 

We specialise in the use of advanced Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectroscopy and associated hyperfine techniques in combination with electrochemical methods and electrochemical spectroscopies.

Our group is making contributions in the following research areas.


Photo-, electro- and photo-electrocatalysis

In our lab, we are interested in inorganic photocatalysis and photo-electrocatalysis for the conversion and abatement of air and water pollutants, the generation of green hydrogen from water, the reduction of CO2 to CO and C1+ oxygenates, and the conversion of biomass and waste into value-added chemicals and products.

Our exploration of biomass-derived carbon nanostructures as electrocatalysts highlights our commitment to sustainable materials and methods in energy conversion. This research not only advances our scientific understanding of solar energy utilization but also paves the way for practical applications in renewable energy and green chemistry.

Our group is also contributing to developing cost-effective organic photocatalysts. Our objective is to harness solar energy for driving the synthesis of complex organic molecules, broadening the scope of photoredox reactions, minimising energy consumption, and reducing hazardous waste in chemical synthesis.

In these fields of research, we adopt a variety of EPR and electrochemical methods to ascertain the nature of paramagnetic states in photo-and electro- catalysts, including charge carriers generation, trapping, recombination and transfer, which dictate the redox chemistry responsible for macroscopic photo-electrocatalytic activity and selectivity. 



Reactive radical generation for disinfection and catalysis

Globally, water disinfection is reliant on chlorination, but requires a route that avoids the formation of chemical residues. Hydrogen peroxide, a broad-spectrum biocide, can offer such an alternative but is typically less effective than traditional approaches to water remediation. Using EPR spectroscopy in combination with carefully designed spin trapping protocols, our research is enabling game-changing approaches to water disinfection based on catalytic radical chemistry that could form the basis of novel and more sustainable methods for water disinfection.

The same approach is also being used to advance the field of selective oxidation chemistry with the goal of demonstrating and developing novel catalytic systems capable of replacing costly stoichiometric oxidants such as dichromate, chromic acid, and permanganate, for selective oxidation processes carried out on an industrial scale.



Catalysis for green chemistry

We focus on using advanced EPR spectroscopy to push the boundaries of catalysis for green chemistry.
We are exploring novel metal-oxide frameworks and supported metal nanoparticles that facilitate the conversion of methane to methanol at ambient temperatures. This research is pivotal in addressing the challenge of methane's environmental impact, and by enhancing the efficiency and selectivity of this conversion process, we work towards developing a scalable and environmentally benign method for methane utilisation.
We also focus on understanding the catalytic chemistry of mono- and bi-metallic-supported metal nanoparticles as well as metal oxides for green chemical processes such as glycerol hydrogenolysis, transesterification of fatty acids, and in general, the conversion of biomass feedstocks to value-added fuels and chemicals.



CH2117: Environmental Chemistry
This module discusses the chemistry of the environment, including the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere. Particular attention is devoted to the causes and effects of pollution in the environment, such as smog, acid rain, global warming, ozone depletion, water pollution, and the methods used for pollution control.


Scientific supervision

In my laboratory, we embrace a multidisciplinary approach, combining experimental techniques with theoretical modelling to push the boundaries of what's possible in sustainable energy and catalysis research. I am always on the lookout for curious and motivated students who are eager to contribute to meaningful scientific advancements and explore these cutting-edge areas:

  1. Photocatalysis: Exploring innovative methods for harnessing solar energy to drive chemical reactions. Projects here aim to develop new photocatalytic materials that can effectively convert solar energy into chemical energy, offering sustainable solutions for environmental remediation and energy conversion.
  2. Electrochemistry and electrocatalysis
  3. Photo-electrocatalysis: Delving into the intricacies of photo-induced electrochemical processes. Projects here will merge the principles of photocatalysis with electrochemistry. Students will design and synthesise novel photo-electrocatalytic systems that can efficiently facilitate reactions like water splitting and carbon dioxide reduction, contributing to the study of future methods for producing clean energy.
  4. Radical chemistry for disinfection and catalysis:
  5. Theory and methods in EPR spectroscopy: Projects here are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of EPR spectroscopy by developing novel theoretical and practical approaches, facilitated by collaborations with theoreticians and computational chemists, as well as microwave engineers.


Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Students in my group will be exposed to the REGARDS framework. 

REGARDS is a program that I initiated for the group and that aims to promote belonging and empowerment in the workplace across Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Age, Religion, Disability, and Sexual orientation. The key elements of REGARDS are:

  1. The lab Equality Statement (ES) which defines the group's activities and commitment to equality as well as physical and mental wellbeing (I am an accredited i-ACT manager).
  2. The lab Action Plan (AP) that outlines the steps the team take to promote self-awareness, counteract unconscious bias, identify accessible-to-all communication methods and flexible working arrangements to suit everyone’s needs and commitment outside of the work environment.
  3. The lab Support Network (SN) via which raising awareness of mentoring programs (CU and beyond), peer support opportunities, and inclusive training to foster a welcoming environment for all students.

ES-AP-SN are regularly reviewed and updated whenever a new member joins the group, ensuring that everyone feels valued and considered, creating the best possible environment to maximize their potential. This will also serve as an essential training opportunity to propagate a positive and inclusive research ethic in the group members' future research endeavours.

My students are also exposed to programmes and networks (RSC’s “the missing elements”, BBSTEM, STEMWomen, DiSTEM, Stemmetes) to promote and enhance the visibility of researchers from underrepresented groups; and training opportunities from CU, GW4 and RSC to promote EDI culture.


Leadership building

We believe that the journey of a PhD programme is not only about obtaining a degree and, if possible, publishing papers. We see a PhD programme as a process of becoming a highly employable scientist capable of anticipating, reflecting and engaging on the wider scientific, ethical and societal impacts of our work, thus adding much value to the graduate attributes.

In the group, we have a common and shared responsibility to understand our roles within the higher education community and prepare ourselves to be educated citizens. We continuously reflect on the student experience, contributing to the development of leadership competencies.

Leadership development involves self-awareness, understanding of others, values, diverse perspectives, organizations, and change. We seek leadership programmes for all the group members that aim to empower us and enhance our self-efficacy as leaders and understand how we can make a difference. Our concept of leadership "stems from our relationship with others, and it is fostered through self-awareness and an understanding of context" (Journal of Leadership Education).

Within the group we regularly practice leadership skills by:

  1. Being communicative: we openly and clearly articulate goals, we are open to feedback, and we manage the team dynamics in the most respectful way to all the members;
  2. Building relationships: we value the importance of a trust-based network for support and knowledge exchange.
  3. Strategically thinking: our research and activities are supported by clear plans with defined goals, approaches, objectives, and tools.
  4. Learning effective time management and financial discipline: from learning what we can delegate and what we cannot, to developing project management skills critical for efficiency and effectiveness in any workplace. Students are also encouraged to manage their own finances within the research budget allocated to their projects, helping them to develop important skills crucial for their own future careers.



Current supervision

Nathan Harrison

Nathan Harrison

Research student

Callum Morris

Callum Morris

Research student

Dom Conway

Dom Conway

Research student