Academy of Finland funds international projects researching solar-driven chemistry

29 Jan 2020

Six research consortia have been granted funding under the international Solar-Driven Chemistry (SDC) initiative. The total funding for the consortia, which comprise 20 subprojects, comes to 4.6 million euros. The call was opened by the national research funding organisations of Finland, France, Germany, Poland and Switzerland. The Academy of Finland granted a total of 864,000 euros to three Finnish subprojects. The three-year projects will be launched in April 2020.

The SDC-funded projects will focus on fundamental research into solar-driven chemistry but also promote the principles of sustainability in line with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The call was a two-stage call that placed particular emphasis on originality, novelty and innovation.

In Finland, the call attracted interest among researchers across several fields. Finnish researchers from nine research organisations participated in 25 letters of intent with 29 subprojects. According to Professor Reko Leino, Chair of the Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering, the SDC call will facilitate deeper and more extensive international cooperation in this field, which the Research Council considers to be strategically important. Leino also thinks the funding is important for renewing and reinforcing the quality of Finnish science.

The Academy granted funding to the following subprojects:

Professor Pedro Camargo, University of Helsinki, consortium: SolarMethaChem: Solar Light-Driven Processes for Methane Photochemical Conversion

  • Catalysis is central for cleaner, more efficient, and economically viable chemical production processes. If the energy required to drive catalytic processes could be harvested directly from sunlight via photocatalysis, we could replace contemporary processes based on non-renewable fuels by sunlight. Camargo’s project will focus on the photochemical and selective transformation of methane into higher hydrocarbons, employing solar radiation as the energy input by developing efficient, selective, recoverable, stable and recyclable photocatalytic nanomaterials.

Professor Markku Leskelä, University of Helsinki, consortium: Interfacial Engineering of Semiconductors for Highly Selective Light-Driven Chemical Transformations

  • Leskelä’s subproject will study solar-driven photo(electro)catalysis on semiconducting surfaces. The aim is to fabricate well-defined surfaces and interfaces by atomic layer deposition (ALD) and to investigate the mechanistic factors governing the selectivity by a combination of photoelectrochemical and surface science methods, and theoretical calculations.

Academy Research Fellow Pekka Peljo, Aalto University, consortium: Photoproduction of Hydrogen in Biphasic Systems with Electron Donor Recycling

  • The development of modern societies and the survival of human beings depend on our ability to harness sustainable sources of energy. Hydrogen is an excellent energy carrier and zero-emission fuel, but it is mainly generated by methods relying on fossil fuels. Peljo’s project focuses on photoelectrochemical systems, where hydrogen is generated at the interface between organic solvent and water. Organic solvent will contain molecules of electron donors and generate hydrogen at the water-organic solvent interface in the presence of sunlight.

Inquiries and more information

  • List of funded projects
  • Minna Räisänen, Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 072, firstname.lastname(at)

Academy of Finland Communications
Vesa Varpula, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 131

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