The SOFI Blog

We’ll keep you updated on news and developments in the solar fuels and renewable energy field. Topics include science, industry, and energy policy. Check back regularly to get our take on what you need to know, what’s interesting, and what we’re reading around the web.

Phase 1: Complete

Back in February 2016 we announced the commencement of the building phase of the SOFI Demonstration Project. Our plan designated four phases of development:

Phase 1: CO2 to Methanol conversion
Phase 2: H2 generation from water splitting
Phase 3: Renewable energy incorporation
Phase 4: CO2 capture
This past April Alex Grant, a graduate student in the Notestein research group at Northwestern University, began working on Phase 1 of the SOFI Demo Project – the CO2 to Methanol reactor. After 6 months of building, coding, and tweaking – the first drops of methanol dripped from the reactor’s condenser…

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SOFI: 2016 in Review

Near the start of 2016, we opened the SOFI Knowledge Map to contributions from the solar fuels community. The response has been great. We are producing more “how to” videos, so look for those in 2017! If you have authored a paper and are looking for a way to reference your results easily in a presentation, add the numbers from your papers to the SOFI Knowledge Map and then mention the website in your talk. People can easily access your paper’s results and bookmark it for later use! In 2017, you will be able to add a logo to your presentation to indicate your work is in the Knowledge Map. We are looking forward launching this feature in early 2017, stay tuned. We announced in April that we were starting Phase 1 of the SOFI Demonstration project…

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Collaboration is Key

Last week Prof Hammarström published a Perspective in Chem, on the important roles of catalysis and solar fuels in meeting our future energy needs. One of our favorite quotes from Prof Hammarström’s piece is: “The challenges and opportunities for solar fuels are great, and we need a long-term and cross-disciplinary commitment of research and development to make this a reality.” As a member and leader of the Swedish Consortium for Artificial Photosynthesis (CAP), Prof Hammarström knows very well the importance and benefits of cross-disciplinary research. Research done within the Swedish Consortium…

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CO2 Capture Companies who are Changing the status quo

Earlier this year (2105), the Carbon XPRIZE was announced. Taking a hint on how a successful XPRIZE’s impact a market from the Ansari XPRIZE for space travel, in 2017 we can expect to see more carbon capture companies venturing into the CO2 marketplace. By utilizing the CO2, rather than storing it, we can begin to replace feedstocks traditionally sourced from petroleum. Evolving from a fossil fuel economy to a carbon neutral, or even carbon negative economy, will take time, investment, and innovation. One of the essential first steps is figuring out how to capture CO2 from air. Since the Carbon XPRIZE has focused on capturing CO2 from power plant flue gas, we would like to take a look at ambient air capture. As Global Thermostat’s CTO, Dr. Peter Eisenberger…

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US DOE Carbon Dioxide Utilization Funding

August 8th, 2016, the US Department of Energy and the National Energy Technology Laboratory published the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0001622, an announcement directed at developing technology for CO2 capture and utilization from flue gas of coal fired power plants. Rather than sequester the CO2, DOE is encouraging the development of technologies to utilize the CO2, by converting it into valuable products. The DOE is NOT interested in projects that involved alternative power sources (such as solar and wind) nor are they interested in projects that would use the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery. Projects that can demonstrate effectively utilization of all levels of heat in a coal fired power plant,…

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Chemistry focused Pre-print server: ChemRxiv

August 10th the American Chemical Society, a major publisher in the field of Chemistry, announced their intent to create a pre-print server for Chemistry focused papers. The reaction to this announcement have been far reaching and mixed. Let’s step back a few paces and look at where the idea of pre-print servers took shape. In 1991, Paul Ginsparg recognized the need for central storage of TeX based preprints he and a colleague, Joanne Cohn, were sharing at Los Alamos National Laboratory. According to Wikipedia, the first version of this preprint server was called the “LANL Preprint Archive” and was initially focused on physics publications…

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SOFI Summer Workshop 2016

This Spring SOFI invited early career scientists from our academic member institutions to apply to the SOFI Summer Workshop 2016 to be held August 10-11th in Chicago, IL. We designed this workshop to be unique from the outset. We asked the participants to step back from the lab bench and look for ways current solar fuels technology could be brought into the market place…

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Energy Mapping: the US energy sector

Have you ever wondered where all of the energy produced in your country ends up? Few people take the time to read all of the fine print and cited material in governmental reports. Add to that, not everyone as access to all of that information. MacArthur Fellow Saul Griffith and his team at Otherlab have dug through all of the footnotes and obscure references in the US Department of Energy’s publications to construct an interactive map…

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ASU Post-doc Positions

Prof Holman, in the ASU School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, has 3 post-doc positions open! Wide-bandgap II-VI solar cells Silicon-based tandem solar cells Thermally insulating particulate coatings Prof Holman is looking for researchers who are...

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