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Research questions

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 are fundamental questions, yet with a strong potential to find application in industry and society. They are strongly related to the 'science agenda' of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).