This research area aims to develop new catalysts and materials for more sustainable technologies with a direct impact on the production of green energy and chemicals and on the fight against climate changes, such as solar fuels and chemicals (photocatalytic processes for hydrogen production, ammonia production, synthesis of fine chemicals, and H2O2 production), electrochemical devices for energy conversion and storage (fuel cells, electrolyzers and supercapacitors), biomass conversion into platform chemicals and biofuels, catalytic technologies for CO2 utilization, and catalytic technologies for waste valorization.

Photocatalytic technologies, including novel catalysts and innovative photoreactors, were implemented: to produce renewable and sustainable hydrogen by visible-driven water splitting and photocatalytic biomass reforming; for the selective synthesis of aromatic aldehydes and imines; for ammonia synthesis from water and nitrogen and using metal-free g-C3N4 catalysts immobilized over 3D-printed structures; and H2O2 production over modified graphitic carbon nitride.

A detailed catalyst design, based on the in-depth experimental and theoretical understanding of the surface reactions and interactions involved in the oxygen reduction and evolution reactions (ORR and OER), provided promising alternatives to the use of unsustainable noble metals. Biomass-derived carbons modified by introducing heteroatoms (O, P) and/or incorporating carbon nanotubes (CNTs) during the synthesis/activation procedure demonstrated promising results as supercapacitors.

For biomass conversion into fuels and chemicals, using tandem processes, notable yields of sorbitol and ethylene glycol were attained from the direct catalytic valorization of agro-forestry and urban biomass residues (among the best obtained for the catalytic conversion of lignocellulosic biomass by an environmentally friendly process). C6 sugars and sugarcane molasses were valorized to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural in water, and auspicious results were obtained with phosphorylated carbon xerogels.

Property-performance relationships and reaction mechanisms were established for Ni supported on N-doped carbons for CO2 methanation by ex situ and in situ characterization to understand the importance of carbon materials in the performance of the catalysts.

Major projects in this research area include: