In the long term

Friday 24 Mar 17
by Morten Andersen


Ib Chorkendorff
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 31 70
90 minutes of sunshine on Earth produces enough energy to cover the total global annual energy consumption. But the challenge is to ‘harvest’ the energy.

In connection with photocatalytic water splitting, solar energy and catalysts can be used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be stored and used either to produce electricity when the sun is not shining or as fuel.

The challenge is that a good catalyst must fulfil three requirements: It must be inexpensive, efficient, and durable. Available photocatalytic systems only allow two of the three requirements to be met—some systems are durable but expensive, while others are inexpensive but inefficient. In addition, the system must have the capacity to absorb sunlight efficiently to ensure enough energy for the water splitting.

In the ‘VILLUM Center for the Science of Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals’, Ib Chorkendorff, Professor at DTU Physics, is working together with a number of leading international researchers to address this challenge by improving the nanoparticles in the catalysts with a view to optimizing the reaction to be catalysed.

An example could be to converting sunlight directly into hydrogen. The researchers hope to achieve a breakthrough in the area in the next five to eight years, and thereby contribute to securing future energy storage and the production of chemicals which are currently produced exclusively from fossil resources.

Read more about the centre’s work at

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