Five million euros for research into CO2-neutral fuels

November 28th 2013

27 November 2013
Mike Gleeson and Gerard van Rooij from DIFFER's Solar Fuels research theme, together with colleagues from four Dutch universities, are starting three research projects on the clean production of fuels from water and CO2. The research is financed by Shell, FOM and NWO. In total, seven research projects receive funding from the call CO2-neutral fuels .

CO2-neutral fuels

The production of fuels from CO2 and sustainable energy sources such as solar and wind energy is vitally important for the well-known storage issue: during the large-scale production of clean energy using fluctuating sustainable energy sources, storage is necessary as soon as there is too much energy so this can be used when there is a shortfall. Peaks and troughs in the energy production can be attenuated by not using the energy immediately but instead storing it in the form of chemical compounds in fuels, for example. Furthermore, by using CO2 as one of the building blocks in the production, climate effects from the rising CO2 levels worldwide can be alleviated. This can also give economic value to CO2.

Plasma reactor for CO2 neutral fuels experiments at DIFFER - credit: Gerard van Rooij / Alex Poelman

An abstract of each research programme will be published on The following projects received funding:

  • Computer-aided design of iron-sulfide nanocatalysts for the solar-driven conversion of CO2 to fuels - Dr. M. Barroso (Universiteit Utrecht), prof.dr. N.H. de Leeuw (Universiteit Utrecht) en dr. J.P. Hofmann (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven)
  • Direct Production of Fuels from Captured CO2 - Dr. M.A. Gleeson (FOM-instituut DIFFER) en L. Lefferts (Universiteit Twente)
  • Earth Abundant Materials based Monolithic Photovoltaic-Photo¬≠electrochemical Device toward 15 procent Solar-to-Hydrogen Conversion Efficiencies - Dr. A.H.M. Smets, dr. W.A.S. Smith, prof.dr. B. Dam, prof.dr. M. Zeman (TU Delft)
  • Photocatalytic silicon microwire membranes: efficient tools for water splitting devices - Prof. J.G.E. Gardeniers en J. Huskens (Universiteit Twente)
  • Plasma Chemistry at Work: efficient plasma-assisted fuel conversion through control of vibrational excitation - Prof. G.J. van Rooij (FOM-instituut DIFFER), dr. R.A.H. Engeln (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven) en dr. W.C.M. Berden (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)
  • Surface Reactivity of Activated CO2 - Dr. L. Juurlink (Universiteit Leiden) en dr. M.A. Gleeson (FOM-instituut DIFFER)
  • Towards efficient low-temperature CO2 electrolysis - Prof. M.T.M. Koper, prof.dr. E. Bouwman, dr. S. Bonnet en dr. D.G.H. Hetterscheid (Universiteit Leiden).

The overarching research programme 'CO2-neutral fuels'

For the overarching research programme CO2-neutral fuels, set up from within the NWO theme Sustainable Energy and aligned with the top sector Energy, a budget of nine million euros is available. The programme has three parts: (1) the call 'CO2-neutral fuels', of which five million euros has now been awarded; (2) the call 'Plasma Conversion of CO2', which is focused more on applied research and is currently open for proposals. This call fits within the guidelines of the overarching programme but has a more specific research scope. For this call Technology Foundation STW and Alliander have made a sum of two million euros available (deadline 3 December 2013); (3) a programme in which two tenure track researchers can be appointed within the new research line Solar Fuels. This programme is running at the institute for fundamental energy research DIFFER.