A workshop to think about the commercialization of solar fuels

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On August 10 and 11, the Solar Fuels Institute (SOFI) organized, in partnership with the Office for Science and Technology of the Consulate General of France in Chicago, a workshop on the issues faced by researchers and entrepreneurs in the field of advanced biofuels to bring their innovation to the market.

The Solar Fuels Institute was created four years ago by a group of researchers under the umbrella of the Office of Research of Northwestern University. Its main goal is to harness the intellectual firepower of global research institutes and connect them with leading industry partners with the goal of commercializing a liquid solar fuel. SOFI’s members include leading academic research institutions all over the world, as well as energy and technology companies, among them Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University in Chicago and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Research Center (CEA) in France. To achieve these goals, SOFI is leading different actions, like advocacy, the settlement of a knowledge sharing platform and the support of researchers and startups in their efforts to take solar fuels from the lab to the marketplace.

This workshop gathered researchers, entrepreneurs and specialists in innovation and funding. Young scientists had been able to present their works, among them two scientists from the CEA in France, Nathan Coutard and Chris Windle. Nathan works on bio-inspired catalysts made of nickel for fuel cells. Chris works on CO2 photoreduction by manganese based catalysts. This workshop was also a great occasion to start thinking about the different paths to take solar fuels from the lab to the marketplace.