Project
Lumen

Like all other industries, the chemicals industry needs to transition from use of fossil fuels to sustainable energy, a good example of which is the electricity generated by wind turbines. LUMEN focuses on another source of sustainable energy – the sun. LUMEN is working intensively on a technology concept that will enable sunlight to be used directly as a ‘fuel’ for sustainable chemical processes.

The project addresses two major challenges – to switch from fossil fuels to sunlight as a sustainable source of energy, and to reduce CO2 emissions by using the CO2 as a starting material. The project will also investigate whether or not the concept of using sunlight in chemical processes can be used in ‘fine chemistry’, for the production of medicines for example, in a way that is easier and safer than the current standard.

Let us be inspired by nature to help make chemical processes sustainable and future-proof!

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The technique behind the chemistry

We aim to create an integrated, laboratory-scale demonstrator (‘laboratory-scale mini-plant’) that can demonstrate that sunlight-driven conversion of CO2 with hydrogen into methane and/or syngas is feasible from both a technical and economic perspective.

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About the project

Our goals

  • We aim to create an integrated, laboratory-scale demonstrator (‘laboratory-scale mini-plant’) that can demonstrate that sunlight-driven conversion of CO2 with hydrogen into methane and/or syngas is feasible from both a technical and economic perspective.
  • We will also create a laboratory-scale demonstrator for at least one fine-chemical compound. These are specific compounds that are important for use as ingredients in products such as medicines and high-quality materials. Here, we will examine the selectivity of the catalyst in allowing parts of a target molecule to react while other parts do not, thus remaining the same. We expect to find conclusive business cases for these chemicals more easily than for the production of inexpensive, frequently used substances.
  • The aim is to take the laboratory-scale demonstrator setup and, once LUMEN is complete, evolve it into an integrated pilot-scale demonstrator and then into an industrial process. This would offer interest regional companies great opportunity.

In addition, the conversion of CO2 into chemicals will also offer alternatives to the current production of petroleum and accelerate the reduction of CO2 emissions in the region, helping the project to contribute to climate protection objectives (EC2030 Energy Transition).

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Exceptionally high efficiency

LUMEN is a successor project to the Interreg VL-NL project EnOp and builds on the results attained in that project. Hasselt University and TNO have discovered a catalyst that is capable of converting an unwanted waste product, CO2, into methane as a usable fuel with the aid of sunlight. The process uses 55% of the energy from the sunlight, which represents exceptionally high efficiency.

In the majority of cases, traditional photocatalysts use only the UV part of the sunlight, rendering a significant portion of the light unused and therefore achieving much lower efficiency. The concept developed by TNO and Hasselt University produces methane with sunlight alone as its source of energy, and at a much lower temperature and pressure.

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Sunlight as sustainable source of energy

Future research in LUMEN will investigate if this method can also be used for the production of, for example, pharmaceutical products and syngas. This concept enables the highly efficient production of chemical products and fuels with sunlight as the sustainable source of energy.

Syngas is now frequently used as an element in conventional chemical processes.

Interested in our way of thinking? Contact us for more information or participate in our LinkedIn community!

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