Our mission is to construct a complete system for solar-powered production of fuels such as hydrogen via water splitting. Design principles will be drawn from the fundamental concepts that underlie photosynthetic energy conversion.
A major challenge facing humanity is developing a renewable source of energy to replace our reliance on fossil fuels. The ideal source will be abundant, inexpensive, environmentally clean, and widely distributed geographically. Energy from the sun meets these criteria. Unfortunately, practical, cost effective technologies for conversion of sunlight directly into useful fuels do not exist, and new basic science is required. A blueprint for storage of solar energy in fuels does exist, however, in photosynthesis. Indeed, all of the fossil-fuel-based energy we consume today derives from sunlight that was harvested by photosynthetic organisms.
Recognizing the need for new science, the DOE established the ASU Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production in 2009. The Center involves 11 faculty from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and is housed within the ASU Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis. The Solar Fuel Center consists of faculty, research associates, graduate students and undergraduate researchers dedicated to solving the renewable energy problem.