Our solar fuels research

The worldwide energy transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy requires technology with which energy can be efficiently stored and transported. Our research into solar fuels addresses the global challenge of efficiently converting and storing sustainable energy into chemicals. These offer the highest energy densities and are ideal for long-term storage and long-distance transport of sustainable energy.

The CO2-neutral solar fuel cycle relies on renewable energy and reuse of carbon dioxide

In particular, DIFFER investigates the splitting of water (with sustainable electricity from for example sun or wind power) into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity and the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbon monoxide, as an important starting point for the synthesis of CO2-neutral chemical fuels. Our research involves the synthesis and design of novel materials and processes to obtain scalable, efficient and cost-effective systems.

Want to learn more about Solar Fuels?

Check out our dossier on Solar Fuels (in Dutch), published in November 2018 as a special issue of NTvN, the Dutch Physics Journal:

Physics website Natuurkunde.nl covered our Solar Fuels research:


Research groups

Autonomous Energy Materials Discovery
Applying fundamental physical laws and modern data science tools to model, and more ambitiously, to discover new materials for energy conversion and storage. - group leader: Dr. Süleyman Er

Catalytic and Electrochemical Processes for Energy Applications
Combining solid state electrochemistry with (photo)catalysis to improve the efficiency of existing and to develop new routes for energy storage - group leader: Dr. Mihalis Tsampas

Electrochemical Materials and Interfaces
Understanding and tuning the properties of electrochemical materials and interfaces to reach highest performance and to supply alternative, sustainable energy solutions for the future - group leader: Dr. Anja Bieberle

Materials and Surface Science
Getting fundamental insights into chemical and physical processes occurring during the interaction of solar fuel relevant molecules with materials - group leader: Dr. Michael Gleeson

Plasma Solar Fuels Devices
Gaining efficient production of high energy density fuels or intermediates such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas by plasma assisted conversion - group leader: Prof.Dr.Ir. Richard van de Sanden

Solar Fuels Facilities and Instrumentation
Facilitating all solar fuels research groups at DIFFER by reconstruction of labs and developing, operating and maintain all unique devices and diagnostics - group leader: Dr. Stefan Welzel


Atmospheric Plasma Processing of Functional Films
Investigating atmospheric plasma processes for large scale synthesis of advanced functional thin films for CO2 neutral solutions. This group completed its programme in 2018. - group leader: Dr. Hindrik de Vries

Computational Plasma Physics and Chemistry
Developing numerical models for the study of molecular plasmas - group leader: Dr. Paola Diomede

Nanomaterials for Energy Applications
Exploring fundamental challenges and application opportunities of nanomaterials for energy conversion and storage - group leader: Dr. Andrea Baldi

Nonequilibrium Fuel Conversion
Fundamental understanding of plasma chemical dissociation of CO2 for the development of a generic plasma chemical route as the first step in CO2-neutral fuel production - group leader: Prof.Dr. Gerard van Rooij

Photonics for Energy
Investigation light-matter interaction in a broad range of frequencies to contribute energy conversion. As of 1 September 2018, this group has become part of TU/e. Find their new homepage here - group leader: Prof.Dr. Jaime Gómez-Rivas