SPOTLIGHT – Sunlight production of chemical fuels


The key objective of the project is to develop and validate a photonic device and chemical process concept for the sunlight-powered conversion of CO2 and green H2 to the chemical fuel methane (CH4, Sabatier process), and to carbon monoxide (CO, reverse Water Gas Shift process – rWGS) as starting material for production of the chemical fuel methanol (CH3OH). Both CH4 and CH3OH are compatible with our current infrastructure, and suited for multiple applications such as car fuel, energy storage, and starting material to produce valuable chemicals.

Facing the challenges

The sun is a valuable source of energy. It allows converting feedstocks such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and water into clean alternative fuels. These fuels are equivalent in terms of functionality to the fossil fuels, and thus they can fully replace them cutting the greenhouse gas emissions (in particular CO2).

Why spotlight?

The project develops and validates a photonic device and chemical process concept for the sunlight-powered conversion of the unwanted greenhouse gas CO2 and green H2 to the chemical fuel CH4, and to CO as starting material for production of the chemical fuel CH3OH.

Our objectives, our results

  • A transparent flow reactor tailored for sunlight-powered Sabatier with gaseous starting materials and products, and packed-bed solid plasmonic catalysts
  • Secondary solar optics for sunlight-powered chemical processes at solar concentration factor ≤ 20 and plate-shaped reactors
  • Energy efficient LED as solution to ensure continuous operation of sunlight-powered plasmon catalytic reactions
  • New plasmonic nanocatalysts with tailored optical and catalytic properties and for high space-time-yield
  • Achieve an overall device efficiency close to 55%




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