Universiteit Leiden

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Fundamental Research in Energy & Sustainability

Twenty years from now, the world population is estimated to be around 9 billion people (now 8 billion). In combination with the improvements in living standards and the corresponding growth in consumption, this population will result in an enormous increase in the demand for food, consumables, water and energy. Technological and fundamental chemical solutions to meet these demands are needed.

In the area Energy & Sustainability at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry research is focused on chemical reactions of importance to the sustainable and efficient production and storage of energy, as well as the subsequent usage of stored energy, on a fundamental level.

The Leiden research on Energy & Sustainability employs advanced spectroscopic techniques, nano-imaging, inorganic synthesis, and theoretical methods to elucidate the molecular processes that are at the basis of the conversion of solar energy and electrical energy to chemical energy. In addition, new (electro)catalysts, materials, and molecular and supramolecular systems are being developed and investigated, especially for cyclic redox chemistry of the hydrogen-oxygen cycle, with attention for the reversible storage of hydrogen, and for the carbon cycle, in which the sustainable and reversible conversion of carbon dioxide into a liquid carbon-rich fuel is a central challenge. Topics of specific interest include: 

  • the fundamental electrochemistry and electrocatalysis of the hydrogen and oxygen evolution reactions for water electrolysis
  • the fundamental theoretical and experimental chemistry of the interaction of small molecules with solid, molecular, and biological catalysts and their relevant interfaces
  • the mechanisms of the conversion of carbon dioxide to value-added fuels and chemicals using (bio-)electrocatalysis and thermal catalysis
  • the atomic-level mechanism of the structural evolution of catalysts under relevant operating conditions
  • the fundamental study and development of photo-active (bio-)materials relevant to solar harvesting and their coupling to catalytic processes, such as in artificial photosynthesis.

The ultimate aim is to make a fundamental contribution to a sustainable cyclic chemistry, which is efficient, scalable and robust. We collaborate with a range of academic and industrial partners towards this goal.

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