The idea of a solar fuels collaborative grew out of meetings in Telluride, CO among scientists and others who recognized the need to combine forces in finding a sustainable liquid energy source.
Under the umbrella of the Office of Research of Northwestern University, the Solar Fuels Institute (SOFI) was created to harness the intellectual firepower of global research institutes and connect them with leading industry partners with the goal of commercializing a liquid solar fuel.
Believing that no single institution could solve this challenge on its own, SOFI’s has taken a systems-integration approach to the promise of a commercially-viable alternative to fossil fuels and has engaged a wide spectrum of experts in areas of technology, finance, and marketing to address the complexity of the task.
During SOFI’s first year of operation, we recruited 10 supporting members including core members Northwestern University and Uppsala University. We instituted a process of exchanges encompassing 6 different universities in 4 countries, in an effort to promote the pooling of research resources to accelerate discovery in the field of solar fuels. The newest version of the SOFI Knowledge Map currently has over 60,000 items ready for expert dissection. We look forward to the many ways it can transform the way science is done.
In 2013, we brought in our first industry partners: IL&FS, India and Total France and have continued to invite industry partners to fill strategic roles in the development of our first lab-scale demonstration project to convert sunlight, air and water into methanol.
Combining the reach and inclusiveness of a university-based global consortium with the focus and drive of a small start-up, SOFI hopes to claim its place at the forefront of translational research into a sustainable energy future.