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Sustainable Nanocomposites for Photocatalysis (SusNano)
Start date: Oct 1, 2013, End date: Mar 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Sustainable generation of energy is arguably the biggest challenge facing society. Investment into energy research is considerable (e.g. ~€2.5billion in EU FP7), with one key goal being the capture of solar energy. Production of electricity from sunlight (photovoltaics) is perhaps the most well-known option, but is restricted to less than 0.1% of the current market due to cost and problems with long term storage. An alternative approach, inspired by photosynthesis, is the use of sunlight to generate storable, transportable chemical fuels. These can include hydrocarbons from carbon dioxide and hydrogen from water splitting. While considerable advances have been made in artificial photosynthesis, efficient visible light catalysts are still a major challenge. Furthermore, any feasible large-scale system must be based on abundant materials and facile fabrication processes. This is emphasized in a recent White Paper prepared by the UK, US, Japanese, German and Chinese Chemical Societies. They state the need for, “new catalysts and materials from low-cost, earth-abundant elements that can be used to build affordable, sustainable solar energy transformation and storage systems” This proposal will directly address this challenge by creating new photocatalyst/cocatalyst composites based on earth-abundant elements and facile methods. These unique approaches will enable H2 production in an economically viable and sustainable manner.

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