+44 (0)24 7671 8970
More publications     •     Advertise with us     •     Contact us
News Article

Consortium to generate clean energy using photonics


European SPOTLIGHT group is developing a new process that uses sunlight and LEDs to make methane and methanol

A European consortium is developing a new process that uses sunlight and LEDs to turn carbon dioxide and green hydrogen into clean energy products like methane gas and methanol liquid fuel.

Called 'SPOTLIGHT', the consortium is creating a chemical process as well as a photonics device to convert carbon dioxide and green hydrogen into the chemical fuel methane and carbon monoxide as a starting material for creating methanol liquid fuel.

With their new device, SPOTLIGHT is looking to process up to one megaton of carbon dioxide per year, making them complementary to existing large-scale carbon capture and utilization processes.

While liquid methanol is used to make safe, clean energy for cars, wind turbines and energy storage applications, it is usually created by reforming natural gas with steam and then converting and distilling the resulting gas mixture into pure methanol. Changing carbon dioxide into a useful product like methanol is typically done with many chemicals in an 'alkali hydroxide–based system’.

Nicole Meulendijks, the project coordinator at SPOTLIGHT, said: "Climate change, one of the biggest societal challenges of our day, can be tackled with light technologies by taking greenhouse gases that trap heat close to the Earth and turning them into something useful.

“Our goal is to develop and validate a photonic device and chemical process concept for the sunlight-powered conversion of CO2 and green H2 to the chemical fuel methane (CH4, Sabatier process), and to carbon monoxide (CO, reverse water gas shift (rWGS) process) as starting material for the production of the chemical fuel methanol (CH3OH). Both CH4 and CH3OH are compatible with our current infrastructure and suited for multiple applications such as car fuel, energy storage, and starting material to produce valuable chemicals.

“SPOTLIGHT’s photonic device will comprise a transparent flow reactor, optimised for light incoupling in the catalyst bed. Furthermore, it will comprise secondary solar optics to concentrate natural sunlight and project it onto the reactor, and an energy-efficient LED light source to ensure continuous 24/7 operation. SPOTLIGHT's catalysts will be plasmonic catalysts, capable of absorbing the entire solar spectrum.”

Offsetting 16 percent of global CO2

The chemical processes proposed by SPOTLIGHT can be scaled up to offset the CO2 emitted by small to medium ‘point sources’ or places that emit carbon dioxide with emissions lower than one megaton per year.

Meulendijks said: “Worldwide, there are approximately 11,000 carbon dioxide 'point sources' with emissions lower than 1 Mt/year. When combined, all these point sources emit a cumulative annual total of around 2.7 billion tonnes of CO2– approximately 16 percent of all CO2 from point sources globally every year. So, potentially, the process we envision at SPOTLIGHT could convert 2.7 Billion tonnes of CO2 per year into useful chemical fuels.

“The photonic device and sunlight-powered process that SPOTLIGHT will develop are modular and can be tailored to the size of CO2 sources up to 1 Mt p.a. with sufficient land coverage of approximately five football fields. Addressing all current carbon dioxide point sources up to that size with SPOTLIGHT's Sabatier process, a total of 2,700 Mt of CO2 per annum (16 percent of all CO2 from point sources) could be converted to 982 megatonnes of chemical fuel methane, or 982 x 109 kg x 50 MJ·kg-1 = 49.1 EJ p.a.

The consortium is coordinated in Netherlands by Nederlandse Organisatie Voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek TNO, and is made up of partners from: Netherlands – Chemtrix Bv, Signify Bv; Belgium - Universiteit Hasselt, Interuniversitair Micro-Electronica Centrum; Switzerland – Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zuerich, Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne; Germany – Fraunhofer Gesellschaft Zur Foerderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V., Deutsches Zentrum Fur Luft - Und Raumfahrt Ev; Italy – Rina Consulting Spa, Acea Pinerolese Industriale Spa; Spain – Fundacion Para El Desarrollo De Las Nuevas Tecnologias Del Hidrogeno En Aragon.

CS International champions a green agenda
Wolfspeed selects Aixtron tools to support 200 mm production
Aixtron wins the prestigious German Innovation Award
Infineon provides Fox ESS with power semiconductors
TriEye and Vertilas demonstrate 1.3 μm VCSEL-driven SWIR sensing solutions
Polychromatic pixels
Infineon receives “GaN Strategic Partner of the Year” award
SweGaN announces strategic partnership with RFHIC
Q-Pixel debuts the world’s highest resolution (6800 PPI) color display
Aixtron receives Gold Supplier award
Coherent secures $15M CHIPS funding through CLAWS Hub
UK CSA Catapult celebrates success
Transforming displays with photo-responsive PeLEDs
US team reinvents the photoconductive switch
Filtronic enhances packaging capabilities
IQE posts full year 2023 results
CSA Catapult opens DER-funded packaging facility
What’s next for SiC?
Power electronics market to reach $69.7B by 2030
EPC announces GaN FET-based audio amp
Arizona State University to explore potential of AlN
Teledyne e2v HiRel announces GaN load switch
Aehr wins major order for SiC wafer test and burn-in system
Innoscience releases GaN driver IC
POET and MultiLane collaborate
III-V Epi reports a year of growth
VECSELS are a step towards the quantum Internet
Navitas to focus on grid reliability at PE International
SiC Innovation Alliance to drive industrial-scale R&D
Axcelis SiC ion implanters see success in Japan
Far-UVC kills 99% of airborne viruses in occupied room
SemiQ expands with new Taiwan office
Search the news archive

To close this popup you can press escape or click the close icon.
  • 1st January 1970
  • 1st January 1970
  • 1st January 1970
  • 1st January 1970
  • 1st January 1970
  • 1st January 1970
  • 1st January 1970
  • 1st January 1970
  • View all news
Register - Step 1

You may choose to subscribe to the Compound Semiconductor Magazine, the Compound Semiconductor Newsletter, or both. You may also request additional information if required, before submitting your application.

Please subscribe me to:


You chose the industry type of "Other"

Please enter the industry that you work in:
Please enter the industry that you work in: