SUNAPPLIGHT: Tailored multifunctional nanophotocatalytic devices: a tactic-to-practice greenway for capture and conversion of CO2

Gustavo Javier Chacón Rosales earned his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Zulia, Venezuela (Summa cum laude) in 2012, in collaboration with the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research and the Université Paul Sabatier. Specializing in Organometallics and Catalysis, he joined Prof. Jairton Dupont’s group (Brazil) in 2015 to develop catalytic systems based on ionic liquids for H2 production, CO2 capture and conversion as alternative energies.

In the last 5 years, he has published 10 articles and filed 1 patent with PETROBRAS, participated in 12 R&D projects, 4 of which as the principal investigator, and 2 industrial contracts. Since 2021 and until 2023, he was a researcher at the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum and Energy and co-supervises 3 graduate and undergraduate theses. He has participated in 23 scientific events and 3 invited plenary conferences, in addition to being an editorial member of 1 Latin American journal and a reviewer for 4 international scientific journals.

Since May 2023, he works as a ComFuturo fellow at the Instituto de Tecnología Química (ITQ, CSIC) carrying out his project SUNAPPLIGHT.

El dióxido de carbono (CO2) es ampliamente aceptado como el principal responsable del efecto invernadero que causa el aumento de la temperatura global del planeta. El proyecto SUNAPPLIGHT propone desarrollar un novedoso nanomaterial capaz de capturar y activar hidrógeno y CO2 y convertirlos a metanol usando la luz solar. Este método, que toma como inspiración el proceso natural de la fotosíntesis, ofrece una solución factible y escalable para producir metanol, cuyo potencial como biocombustible contribuiría a reducir significativamente las emisiones de carbono al ambiente. SUNAPPLIGHT representa una solución verde y sostenible que puede contribuir a hacer frente al cambio climático.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is widely accepted as the main responsible for the greenhouse effect that causes the increase in the global temperature of the planet. The SUNAPPLIGHT project proposes to develop a novel nanomaterial capable of capturing and activating hydrogen and CO2 and converting them to methanol using sunlight. This method, inspired by the natural process of photosynthesis, offers a feasible and scalable solution to produce methanol, whose potential as a biofuel would contribute to significantly reduce carbon emissions into the environment. SUNAPPLIGHT represents a green and sustainable solution that can contribute to addressing climate change.

Extended project summary:

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is widely accepted as the primary driver of the greenhouse effect and global temperature increase. Burning fossil fuels is the main source of non-natural CO2 emissions, leading to a significant increase in the concentration of this gas in the atmosphere. Most current research is focused on alternative energy sources, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the use of CO2 as a C1 building block in chemical synthesis (CCU). Methanol, one of the products obtained from CO2 and hydrogen (H2), has great potential as a renewable fuel and can significantly reduce carbon emissions. However, the high stability of CO2 limits these applications to high-energy and high-cost strategies.

Nature has been a source of inspiration for many researchers seeking to reduce CO2 by simulating photosynthesis. Since the first report of H2 production from water using light by Fujishima and Honda in 1972, H2 production and CO2 conversion with semiconductor materials have gained attention. Recently, it has been demonstrated that the use of metals on the surface of a semiconductor reduces many limitations by sensitizing it and improving its light absorption capacity.

SUNAPPLIGHT proposes to develop new nanostructured materials with gold nanoparticle-decorated surfaces to activate and convert CO2 into methanol using solar light. This approach offers a green and sustainable method to enhance current CCS and CCU strategies by combining frontier chemistry and high-impact science for the benefit of society. Focused on environmental challenges such as global warming, SUNAPPLIGHT offers a personalized, scalable, and implementable solution in the short term to improve quality of life and public safety.