About the research project «ArtifUEL: Artificial Photosynthesis for the production of solar fuels and chemicals»
Research Line: Photocatalytic processes for energy and environmental applications
Mentor: Prof. Javier Marugán (URJC) and Prof. Víctor de la Peña (IMDEA Energy)
ArtifUEL was born as a challenging technology to address the pressing energy demand and growing CO2 emissions, while providing a fossil-free pathway to produce fuels and chemicals. To face this challenge, we present a novel artificial photosynthesis technology, powered by solar energy, to convert natural feedstocks (water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen) into fuels and high-energy chemicals. This complex approach requires the development of multifunctional catalysts to efficiently capture, convert and store sunlight, while simultaneously coupling optical, charge-transfer and catalytic processes at different timescales. The ground-breaking idea is to go a step further in this technology to approach it to reality. For that, we plan to scale-up the process to a semi-pilot plant and to use non-potable water from a wastewater treatment plant. This original and highly interdisciplinary work combines a multi-technique methodology with emphasis on operando spectroscopies and modelling, which will be used to determine the key factors affecting reactivity and selectivity in artificial photosynthesis. This research is conducted at URJC and IMDEA Energy.
About Laura Collado
Laura Collado received her PhD in Environmental and Chemical Engineering in 2015 from Rey Juan Carlos University, being recognized with European Mention. Her doctoral thesis was conducted at IMDEA Energy Institute to investigate the artificial photosynthesis process, focusing on CO2 valorization and solar fuels production, development of multifunctional materials and advanced characterization studies. During her PhD, she completed a 3 months predoctoral research stay at the Imperial College London (UK), under the supervision of Prof. James Durrant, where she studied the charge dynamics in different photocatalytic systems using transient absorption spectroscopy. She also participated in two beamtime periods at the synchrotron light source ALBA (Spain) to perform in-situ NAP-XPS and acquire knowledge on surface chemistry. In 2016 she started her postdoctoral career at the Institute of Mechanical, Process and Energy Engineering (IMPEE) at Heriot-Watt University (Scotland, UK). Her research was focused on the development and study of active catalysts for hydrogenation/dehydrogenation reactions of different biomass-based compounds for energy and industrial applications. As result of her research, she is co-author of 12 scientific publications and she has attended 29 conferences (19 international, 10 national) with participation in 2 keynotes, 18 oral presentations and 9 poster contributions. Currently, she is developing ArtifUEL project as a GET-COFUND MarieCurie Fellow at Rey Juan Carlos University and IMDEA Energy Institute (Photoactivated Processes Unit).
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