In meeting the challenges of the transition towards a sustainable society the Research Priority Area Sustainable Chemistry focusses on a set of important questions:
- Can we design closed cycles for the production of relevant materials and fuels?
- Catalysis is the key to efficient chemical processes. Can the catalysts that are used all be built from earth-abundant, cheap and non-toxic materials such as first-row transition metals?
- Can we use sunlight as a direct energy source in uphill chemical processes to make chemicals and fuels?
- Can we develop new chemistry to allow efficient production of electricity from fuels in advanced fuel-cell technologies with cheap & sustainable catalytic electrodes?
- Can we efficiently use electricity (in the end also always derived directly or indirectly from sunlight) to produce chemicals and fuels in electrosynthetic and electrocatalytic (Galvanic) cells or ‘reversed fuel-cells’?
- Is it possible to understand these chemical processes to such an extent that we can design processes based on first principles?
These research questions are strongly related to the science agenda of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).