The first e-CHEMS & S4S Symposium
ElectroChemistry Hub for Energy Materials & Sustainability
On Friday the 21st of October, the Minnaert hall was filled with bright blue poster boards amongst which enthusiastic students, PhD students and researchers interested in electrochemistry hopped from one poster to the other to discuss their research. This was all part of the first symposium organized by the ElectroChemistry Hub for Energy Materials & Sustainability (e-CHEMS) and Science for Sustainability (S4S).
e-CHEMS is an initiative by a group of early academics in the electrochemistry field. The hub invites students, lecturers and researchers from all departments of the science faculty (and beyond) interested in electrochemistry to join this inspiring and collaborative community.
The Refinery of the Future
The afternoon started with a discussion-sparkling lecture by prof. dr. Eelco Vogt, director of the new Institute for Sustainable and Circular Chemistry and professor in heterogeneous industrial catalysis. Vogt spoke about the ‘refinery of the future.’ All fuel- and energy supply is part of a complex system. As a consequence, the refinery of the future will ask for a system change.
Vogt sketched a positive, yet challenging view of what a refinery should look like by 2050: a small refinery using CO2 as its raw material and therefore necessarily supported by a sea full of windmills and several fields full of solar panels.
Carefully calculated behind a desk, this futuristic refinery could be achievable. However, it presents some grand challenges for science, industry, and society. The direct air capture of CO2 needs to be scaled up immensely. The same goes for the production routes for the activation of CO2. Vogt sees a specific task for the electrochemistry community to take up this grand challenge.
As a take-home message, the lecture emphasized that developing complex technologies, scaling up the practices and convincing the public of what is required to achieve the 2050 goals will ask for full commitment from scientists, the industry, politics and citizens.
After this inspiring lecture, the afternoon continued with a poster session and networking event. Posters were presented with great enthusiasm, and bingo cards – showing words that could be found on one of the posters – encouraged all attendants to make sure to visit every single poster.
The symposium presented a promising start to the e-CHEMS. The hub hopes to promote collaborative and multidisciplinary research projects and increase the visibility of Utrecht University as a cluster of excellence in electrochemistry.