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Sunlight
fueled
chemistry

As a society, we currently face two major challenges: securing our future energy supply by transferring fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and reducing greenhouse gas CO2 emissions. Only then can we achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement; limiting global warming to no more than 1.5°C in the 21st century and net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The FOTON project addresses both challenges.

The main objective of FOTON is the development of high-tech systems and materials for sunlight-driven sustainable chemical processes that contribute to a climate-neutral industry. This objective will be realised through the development of 3 pilot scale demonstrators for the production of green hydrogen (2 demonstrators) and green methanol (1 demonstrator) at test sites. Both green hydrogen and methanol are relevant as building blocks (feedstock) for the chemical industry. In addition, both can also be used as energy storage medium and fuel. Within FOTON, we focus on the production of green hydrogen and green methanol for use as building blocks in the chemical industry. Indeed, for that application, hydrogen and methanol may have a higher cost price than for use as a fuel or in energy storage.

By means of three pilot demonstrations, it is demonstrated that sunlight can be used as a sustainable energy source for the production of green methanol and green hydrogen in a technologically efficient, energy-efficient and financially viable way.

The research within FOTON forms the basis for future translation into an industrial process and offers commercial opportunities for materials and equipment manufacturers and chemical companies in the region.

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The technique behind the chemistry

Three demonstrators will be delivered within the FOTON project, demonstrating that the sunlight-driven conversion of CO2 to hydrogen and methanol is technically and economically feasible.

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The power of the sun

We reduce CO2 emissions, use sunlight as a renewable energy source and make usable products for the chemical and energy sectors. Using the demonstrators, we can demonstrate the technical and commercial feasibility of this process, which is essential for further scale-up and eventual commercialisation.

The research in FOTON provides the basis for the eventual translation into an industrial process and offers commercial opportunities for material producers, equipment manufacturers and chemical companies in the region.

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FAQ

Learn more about Project FOTON. Here you can find the frequently asked questions combined with the answers.

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Q1: Converting CO2 into a fuel: a utopian situation?

In previous work, TNO and UHasselt have proven that it is technically feasible to convert CO2 into hydrogen and methanol on a laboratory scale. Within the framework of the LUMEN project, we aim at establishing a labscale mini factory of this process and demonstrate that the process is also economically feasible

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Q2: What are the key challenges in the development of this technology?

Key challenges in the development of this technology are the design of a suited reactor and process for sunlight fueled conversion of CO2 into hydrogen and methanol. Furthermore the established catalysts need to be further improved to optimize their product selectivity and activity.

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Q3: Who would be interested in this concept?

Primarily companies who have to aim to reduce their CO2 emission, e.g. chemical industry or steel manufacturers. Furthermore companies that produce catalysts for chemical processes and manufacturers of reactors will have an interest in this technology.

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Q4: Where could the CO2 that would be used as raw material come from?

From industrial point sources or from direct air capture

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