And then there was light: the sun powers new chemistry

In an article that appeared in de Telegraaf today, ICC researchers Eline Hutter, Matteo Monai, and Bert Weckhuysen are interviewed about the conversion of CO­2 to methane using sunlight. Although the conversion of CO2 to methane (the Sabatier reaction) has been known since the early 1900’s, it has gained quite some attention recently as one of the solutions to the CO2-problem. New catalysts have been developed that might even allow the use of cheap and abundant solar energy to drive the reaction. This could reform the chemical industry, and might even lead to the future production of jet fuel and diesel from CO2, household waste, and green electricity, as Shell and KLM recently demonstrated. The photocatalysts could also possibly be useful in active coatings that kill viruses, as explained in Christia Jabbour’s recent Nature Chemistry Reviews paper (see May 5 item).

Thomas Hartman made the beautiful artist impression of the solar- and wind-powered refinery of the future with the article.