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Science AMA Series: Hi Reddit, I’m Wilson Smith, an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at TU Delft in the Netherlands. My group studies the conversion of sunlight, water, and CO2 into chemicals and fuels, AMA!
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Hi reddit! I’m Wilson Smith, an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, studying solar energy. My team researches various ways to convert solar energy into electricity and chemical fuels using only water and CO2 as the raw materials. These processes try to replicate what nature has done for over a billion years in photosynthesis, and thus this process is sometimes called ‘artificial photosynthesis’. However, plants have generally very low efficiencies (~1%), so we try to find ways to beat nature using only cheap and abundant materials. Recently, we were able to achieve an efficiency of 12.7%, but still have our work cut out for us. Our ultimate goal is to design systems and devices that can help contribute to the global transition to a renewable energy society that is sustainable and clean. You can catch up with our work on our group website (www.smithsolarlab.com), or follow our updates on twitter (@smithsolarlab). Outside of r/Science, I’ve been known to lurk in r/Phish and r/ASOIAF, and went to high school with Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Rec. I’ll be here as long as it takes to answer your questions about solar fuels, sustainable energy technologies, and what its like to set up a research lab (and life) in Europe as an American. Lets get this going reddit, ask me anything! I’ll be back at 1 pm EST (10 am PST, 6 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask me anything!