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In this online talk, Trevor Best (Syzygy Plasmonics) and Ronnie Belmans (KU Leuven and EnergyVille) will join Ilaria Conti and Jean-Michel Glachant (FSR) to discuss photocatalysis, a nascent hydrogen production technology, as well as the wider subject of technology neutrality in hydrogen production.


Photocatalysis is a photoreaction (i.e., driven by light) accelerated by the presence of a catalyst. Photocatalysis of water under ultraviolet light in the 1970’s was one of the first examples of clean hydrogen production, however, in the decades that followed steam methane reforming (SMR) emerged as the dominant production source, with electrolysis widely supported as the most viable clean alternative. Nevertheless, in recent years there have been significant leaps forward made in the productive efficiency of photocatalysis, with potential for far lower electricity requirements and lower material resource requirements than electrolysis.

With the EU and other major economies pursuing the development of a clean hydrogen economy as a tool in the decarbonisation of the energy sector, there is a growing need for cost-effective and energy efficient production means. Hydrogen can be produced in several ways, both with fossil fuels, renewable energy, or a combination of the two. However, decarbonised hydrogen in its various forms is currently not cost-competitive with hydrogen derived from fossil fuels in the vast majority of circumstances (see Molecules : indispensable in the decarbonized energy chain). This raises questions about how best to bridge that gap for the decarbonisation of existing hydrogen demand, as well as for other potential applications.

Proponents of photocatalysis and other nascent technologies such as methane pyrolysis or thermochemical water splitting argue that the hydrogen landscape is far from settled and that there will be a requirement for a range of technological solutions.


Topics for discussion will include:

  • What is photocatalysis and how does it work?
  • The technology readiness level (TRL) of photocatalysis;
  • The strengths and weaknesses of photocatalysis versus other clean production methods;
  • The role of innovation in the hydrogen space;


Trevor Best | Syzygy Plasmonics


Ronnie Belmans | KU Leuven and EnergyVille

Jean-Michel Glachant and Ilaria Conti | FSR Energy and Climate

Participants are invited to intervene directly in our online Q&A.


Find out more about Syzygy Plasmonics



FSR talks is a series of live interviews with experts from the wider network of the school to showcase and discuss a recent work (a book just published, interesting study, innovative project) in a light and interactive way.

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