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Storing and converting solar energy in sustainable fuels and chemical products is SUNRISE’s main aim to facilitate the transition from a linear to a circular economy. This is why SUNRISE coordinator Huub de Groot (Leiden University) took part in the Solar-to-products symposium at the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER) in Eindhoven (the Netherlands) on November 6, 2019.

Biobased Economy (TKI-BBE), the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and DIFFER brought together around 150 researchers that work in the field of solar energy conversion to clean fuels and products. In particular, scientists that had participated in the NWO programmes Solar-to-Products, Materials-for-Sustainability, CO2-Neutral-Fuels and Towards Biosolar Cells.

The symposium consisted of a past-present-future approach with stimulating presentations and exciting discussion sessions. Among the different renowned speakers were Petra de Jongh (Utrecht University) from one of the core partners of the ENERGY-X initiative, Marcel Hoek (NWO), Richard van de Sanden (DIFFER), and Guido Mul (University of Twente) that from supporting organisations of SUNRISE. Representatives from relevant companies and industries in the field such as Gert-Jan Gruter (Avantium), Ton Wurth (Siemens, SUNRISE partner), and Ton Peijnenburg (VDL‐ETG) were also involved.

During the different sessions, catalytic and electrochemical processes for energy applications and related research on electrochemical materials and interfaces were highlighted, and how to convert solar energy into chemical products and how to convert solar energy to products and fuels such as syngas and ethylene. In a round table session, the mechanisms for co-funded research between industry and academia were discussed, and how to get synergy between the interests of the private sector and the science.

DIFFER performs leading fundamental research for a global sustainable energy infrastructure, while working in close partnership with international academia and industry. Its researchers investigate materials, processes and systems for applications in fusion energy and solar fuels.