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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K021796/1
Title: Solar fuels via engineering innovation
Principal Investigator: Maroto-Valer, Professor MM
Other Investigators:
Lee, Professor AF
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Engineering and Physical Science
Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 30 August 2013 Ends: 14 November 2019 Value (£): 1,179,790
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Reactor Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The quest for sustainable resources to meet the demands of a rising global population is one of the main challenges for humanity this century, with global energy needs set to double by 2050. This is set against the backdrop of increasing CO2 emissions and associated climate change, and the ambitious target set out in the recent UK Fourth Carbon Budget of a 50% cut in CO2 emissions by 2025. Solar energy can be used to drive the conversion of CO2 into fuels via a process called photocatalytic reduction. The utilisation of CO2 as an alternative fuel represents an attractive strategy to address both the consumption of non-renewable fossil fuels and global warming, while offering sustainable, safe and useful carbon capture.

Large-scale, economic photoconversion of CO2 into solar fuels represents a formidable scientific and technical challenge. Existing processes suffer low productivity due to a lack of appropriate reactor designs able to efficiently introduce light, reactants and a suitable photocatalyst into simultaneous contact, and to effect subsequent product separation and recycling of unreacted CO2. Recent progress in this arena has focused on the development of novel catalysts through advances in nanotechnology. Despite such breakthroughs in materials science, the engineering challenge of optimal CO2 photoreactor design needs a step change transformation to reach its crucial role in the overall process performance. Our vision is to engineer novel photoreactors that can achieve efficient hydrocarbon conversion and separation from CO2 for solar fuel production. This will be achieved via an integrated approach between chemical engineers and chemists to intensify the process of CO2 photoreduction through reactor innovation, and thus, provide alternative future energy options.

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Organisation Website: http://www.hw.ac.uk