The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced $100 million in funding over five years for two new awards focused on advancing artificial photosynthesis for the production of fuels from sunlight.
The Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA), led by the California Institute of Technology in close partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is pursuing an approach called “co-design,” which is an effort to make the many complex steps in converting sunlight to fuels work more efficiently both individually and in concert with each other.
The team, under the direction of Harry Atwater of Caltech, will combine computationally driven theory work with real-time observations using ultrafast X-rays and other advanced imaging techniques. DOE is awarding LiSA approximately $60 million.
The Center for Hybrid Approaches in Solar Energy to Liquid Fuels (CHASE), led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, seeks to develop hybrid photoelectrodes for fuel production that combine semiconductors for light absorption with molecular catalysts for conversion and fuel production. CHASE will also blend experiment with theory to understand and establish new design principles for fuels-from-sunlight systems.
Both efforts are multi-institutional partnerships involving both universities and DOE National Laboratories.
LiSA and CHASE will succeed the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP). JCAP, the DOE Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub, was originally established in 2010, and funding concludes this year.
The Department’s Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub program will continue through the combined efforts of LiSA and CHASE. Both are expected to build on the accomplishments of JCAP, as well as several DOE Energy Frontier Research Centers and core research efforts devoted to artificial photosynthesis.
Total planned funding is $100 million over five years, with $20 million in Fiscal Year 2020 and outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.