Workshop: Hydrogen and beyond: how solar fuels and chemicals will decarbonize the world
The world’s dependence on the declining reserves of fossil fuels poses not only environmental problems but also geopolitical issues. Furthermore, the chemical industry involves non-sustainable processes with a negative environmental impact. Solar energy has a huge potential to decarbonize the chemical industry and fuels.
Solar fuels could be stored for hours, days, months, or longer and could be transported anywhere, making them a valuable and flexible resource for a more reliable electric power grid.
The most widely researched solar fuel is hydrogen because its production is comparatively simple and the conversion of CO2 and water into fuels presents a potential solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while providing a sustainable source of fuels and chemicals for the 21st century.
A solar fuel can be produced and stored for later use, when sunlight is not available, making it an alternative to fossil fuels and batteries. Examples of such fuels – beyond hydrogen – are ammonia and hydrazine. Diverse technologies are being developed to carry out these reactions in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way involving thermochemical, electrochemical, photochemical, photo-electrochemical and photo-biologic processes.
Solar Energy to fuel conversion and the production of chemical products is expected to play an increasingly important role in creating storable, transportable alternatives to fossil fuels and the production of chemicals in a more environmental way.