Solar to Fuel

Solar to Fuel – FESC Expertise and Resources

Our vision recognizes that large scale deployment of solar energy would be enabled by storing and distributing this intermittent energy source in a fluid fuel. Furthermore, it would significantly reduce our current dependence on imported oil for transportation fuel. It also recognizes that H2O and CO2 represent natural feedstocks that if, respectively, they could be efficiently dissociated and reduced at scale, the current technology allows downstream production of fuels is established.

Gas pump etc


Faculty Members

Faculty University Expertise Department or Position
J. William Louda FAU Lipophilic pigments Chemistry and Biochemistry
C.T. Tsai FAU Nanomaterials and photocatalytic nanoparticles development Mechanical Engineering
Ali T-Raissi UCF/FSEC Heterogeneous Catalysis; Solar Fuels and Chemicals; Reactor Design; Kinetics Director, Advanced Energy Research Division
Nazim Muradov UCF/FSEC Homogeneous and heterogeneous activation of hydro carbons Research Professor, Chemical Sciences
Cunping Huang UCF/FSEC Hydrogen, thermochemical water splitting cycles Senior Research Engineer (Chemical Eng.)
Jong Baik UCF/FSEC Hydrogen storage, liquefaction Senior Research Engineer (Mechanical Eng.)
David Hahn UF Kinetics; Solar-Thermochemical H2 and Synthetic Fuel Production Department Chair, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng.
Jonathan Scheffe UF Solar thermochemical and electrochemical energy conversion, defect chemistry and thermodynamics of nonstoichiometric oxides Associate Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng.
Gar Hoflund UF Heterogeneous Catalysis; Reactor Design; Kinetics; Separations; Surface Analysis, Surface Science Chemical Engineering
Helena Weaver UF Heterogeneous Catalysts; Nanoparticle Oxide Supports; Surface Characterization; Synthetic Fuels Chemical Engineering
Jason Weaver UF Gas-surface Reactivity and Dynamics, Atomic and Molecular Beam Methods, Surface Spectroscopy Chemical Engineering
Adam Veige UF Homogeneous catalysis Chemistry
Charles Martin UF Nano materials; Electrochemical energy production Chemistry
David Wei UF Visible light photo-catalysis; Designing novel plasmonically active hybrid nanomaterials; nanoparticle enhanced solar cell; surface chemistry Chemistry
Kirk Schanze UF Charge and excitation migration; Dye sensitized solar cells Chemistry
Lisa McElwee-White UF Homogeneous catalysis; Electrocatalysis Chemistry
Rod Bartlett UF Theoretical Chemistry Chemistry
Valeria Kleiman UF Ultrafast time resolved spectroscopy Chemistry
William Dolbier UF Novel Fluorinated Carbanion Chemistry Chemistry
David Richardson UF Homogeneous catalysis; Kinetics Sr. Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Simon Phillpot UF Theoretical and computer-based methods Materials Science and Eng.
Jacob Chung UF High-temperature biomass and waste thermal-chemical conversion to energy Mechanical & Aerospace Eng.
Renwei Mei UF Solar-Thermochemical H2 and Synthetic Fuel Production Mechanical & Aerospace Eng.
William Lear UF Solar-Thermochemical H2 and Synthetic Fuel Production Mechanical & Aerospace Eng.
Hai-Ping Cheng UF Theoretical Chemistry Physics
John Sabin UF Electron dynamics of molecular systems Physics
Neil Sullivan UF NMR studies of molecular kinetics and interactions with adsorbents and catalytic agents Physics
Erik Deumens UF Computational theoretical chemist Physics, Director of UF-HPC
Babu Joseph USF Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis of Synthetic Liquid Fuels. Solar assisted biomass conversion to liquid fuels. Process Systems Modeling, Simulation and Analysis. Chemical and Biomedical Eng.
Randy Larsen USF Biophysical chemistry; Time-resolved optical spectroscopy; Novel photothermal methods Chemistry
Rudy Schlaf USF Surface Science; Macro-molecular materials Electrical Engineering
Matthias Batzill USF Surface Science of Model Catalysts; Photocatalysis Physics
Jim Brenner FIT Development of nanostructured adsorbents, purifiers, and heat transfer media for the hydrogen, microelectronics, specialty chemicals, and pharmaceutical industries. Chemical Engineering
Mary Helen McCay FIT Influence of gravitational force on single crystal growth, directional solidification,and casting. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Kunal Mitra FIT Interaction of short pulse lasers with scattering absorbing media such as tissues, ocean water and clouds for non-invasive detection. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Yahya Ibrahim Sharaf-Eldeen FIT Mathematical modeling, simulation, design and control of dynamic systems. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


  • High flux solar simulator for high temperature solar thermochemical research: A 50 kWe high flux solar simulator consisting of an array of Xe-arc lamps, each coupled to an ellipsoidal mirror is currently being designed for the UF Solar Energy Engineering Laboratory. The UF high flux solar simulator will serve as an experimental platform for solar thermal and solar thermochemical research
  • The Nano and Surface Physics Lab (Batzill Lab)
    • Molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) facility for the growth of planar model oxide photo catalysts
    • Photoemission spectroscopy facility for compositional and electronic structure analysis of catalysts
    • Ultra high vacuum photo-reaction set-up for measuring photo reactivity of model photo catalysts
    • Surface chemistry apparatus, equipped with quadruple mass spectrometer (QMS) for temperature programmed desorption (TPD), low energy electron diffraction (LEED), and Auger electron spectroscopy (AES)
    • Ultra high vacuum scanning tunneling microscope (STM) for atomic scale structural and chemical surface analysis of model photocatalysts
  • Surface Science Lab (Electrical Engineering): Integrated multi-chamber surface science system equipped with photoemission spectroscopy, LEED, and in-situ sample preparation facilities including electrospray deposition of macro-molecular materials and evaporation of various inorganic materials
  • 18-foot trailer scale high-temperature gasification biomass to heat and power experimental system
  • Bench-scale super-high temperature steam biomass gasification experimental system
  • Large-scale first-principles calculations of nano-particles, solids and surfaces, quantum transport through nano/molecular junction, atomistic simulations of water assisted reactions on surfaces, and electron transfer at interface. Innovative methods and algorithms for direct-dynamical DFT methods in conjunction with path-integral approaches and particle (molecules and clusters)-surface interaction. Modeling for the quantum-classical MD interface and a novel computing architecture for multi-scale, multi-processes simulations. PAW potentials and spin-unrestricted QPscfGW for PWSCF
  • John C. Slater Computation and Visualization Laboratory: This Laboratory provides computing and networking services. The central server consists of a redundant pair of servers that function as backup for each other in case of maintenance or hardware failure. They are Sun Fire V490 servers with 4 1.2 GHz Ultra SPARC III+ CPUs, 8 GB of RAM and a 770 GB RAID 5 disk array for home directories and two 380 GB RAID 5 disk arrays for scratch space. There are 50 Solaris desktop workstations with static IP addresses. High-performance development and production computing is performed on a grid of Linux clusters with a total of 304 CPUs. Some are Xeon IA32, some Xeon EM64T, and some AMD Opteron. These clusters are connected by Gigabit Ethernet and are managed by the PBSPro batch management system.
  • Quantum Visualization Studio (QVS): Produces high quality scientific images and animations. Its mission is to develop visualization as a tool for scientific research, efficient communication, and modern education.
  • 120 node beowulf cluster. Each node, a SunFire x4150, contains two Quad-Core Xeon X5460s, 16GB of RAM, Licensed to run VASP, Gaussian, DLPOLY molecular simulation software
  • High Performance Computing Center
  • Femtosecond laser laboratory with equipment for ultrafast time resolved emission and transient absorption measurements
  • Bench-scale Autoclave Engineers BTRS – Jr® reaction system for vapor phase catalyst evaluation and continuous flow process analysis
  • DSC1 Differential Scanning Calorimeter
  • Agilent Technologies 6890N Network GC/MS System for analysis of reaction products
  • Excaliber Series Bio-Rad FTIR with accessories for gaseous and solid/liquid characterization
  • Aabspec FTIR in-situ reaction chamber to characterize surface reaction at the molecular level
  • Pyroprobe- GC/MS-MS and FTIR analysis and characterization of solid fuels
  • TGA-MS and TPD/TPR-MS analysis of catalysts
  • DSC with cryogenic capability
  • AM1 and AM1.5 solar simulators for rapid photocatalyst screening and characterization
  • BTRS-jr system for rapid thermocatalyst screening and characterization
  • Hiden PCT system for Sievert’s analysis
  • Extensive in-house MEA fabrication facility
  • NMR facilities for determination of molecular kinetics and interactions with adsorbing structures
  • Test bed scale tape casting capability
  • Use of DOE funded National Labs, particularly synchrotron facilities