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Training the next generation of scientists in solar chemicals for a sustainable Europe by hybrid molecule/semiconductor devices

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SOLAR2CHEM (Training the next generation of scientists in solar chemicals for a sustainable Europe by hybrid molecule/semiconductor devices)

Reporting period: 2020-02-01 to 2022-01-31

Solar2Chem aims at training the next generation of scientists in solar chemicals. There is an urgent need to develop technologies capable to producing sustainably fuels and chemicals, with the final goal of displacing fossil fuels in the energy and chemical industry. As an inexhaustible source of energy, sunlight represents a very desirable solution to drive decarbonisation and tackle climate change, however harnessing sunlight and utilising it to drive chemical reactions is a major challenge for scientists.
In this project, we aim to develop technologies that can harness sunlight are drive chemicals reactions to produce a variety of fuels and chemicals that are necessary for the society. We are also looking at how these technologies can be deployed to the European industry, by looking at how new renewable technologies and hydrogen have received support from public and private organisations.
In the technical part of the project, we aim at preparing new materials, membranes, reactors, etc. while in the process training the ESRs in a wide range of skills and techniques for the synthesis, study and incorporation of these components into reactors.
The ESRs have a wide span of start date, due to problems with recruitment, termination of initial beneficiaries and delays due to covid-19. However, there has been already three publications in this first reporting period, mostly related to the synthesis, characterisation and testing of new materials as photocatalysts.
The ESRs have received extensive training during the first 3 workshops on preparation of molecules and materials, computational chemistry and photoelectrochemistry, and were able to obtain further hands-on training locally at each host organisation.
Due to covid-19, only one ESR has been able to start the secondment, but there have been project-wide meetings early 2022 to plan and manage the first round of secondments for all ESRs during the year 2022.
As part of the Horizon Booster, the ESRs have been exposed to other EU-funded projects such as FlowPhotoChem, Decade, SunCoChem, etc. which have allowed a closer contact to projects at higher TLR, as well as to industries working as partners in those projects.
During the first reporting period, the ESRs have started their work, in most cases for the first time, in research laboratories using new techniques and skills. So far, the publication of 3 papers demonstrates the progress beyond the state of the art in areas such as carbon nitride and graphene-type materials for photocatalytic applications, as well as the use of DFT to study a well-known photocatalyst such as BiVO4.
Other works are on-going in all aspects of the project which will result in new materials, knowledge and devices with the potential use by the chemical and manufacturing industries using either natural or artificial sunlight.
ChemPhotoChem paper ESR5
Chemical Communication paper ESR6