Chinese Journal of Catalysis ›› 2022, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (5): 1194-1203.DOI: 10.1016/S1872-2067(21)64016-0

• Perspective • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Transforming catalysis to produce e-fuels: Prospects and gaps

Georgia Papanikolaou, Gabriele Centi(), Siglinda Perathoner(), Paola Lanzafame   

  1. Department ChiBioFarAm-Section of Industrial Chemistry, University of Messina, ERIC aisbl and CASPE-INSTM, V.le F. Stagno d’Alcontres 31, 98166 Messina, Italy
  • Received:2021-11-11 Accepted:2022-01-04 Online:2022-05-18 Published:2022-03-23
  • Contact: Gabriele Centi, Siglinda Perathoner


After short introducing the crucial role of e-fuels to meet net-zero emissions targets, this perspective paper discusses the differences between reactive catalysis (electro-, photo- and plasma-catalysis, with focus on the first for conciseness) and thermal catalysis used at most. The main point is to evidence that to progress in producing e-fuels, the gap is not in terms of scaling-up and pilot testing, but rather in the fundamental needs to turn the current approach and methodologies to develop reactive catalysis, including from a mechanistic perspective, to go beyond the current methods largely derived from thermal catalysis. Developing thus new fundamental bases to understand reactive catalysis is the challenge to accelerate the progress in this area to enable the potential role towards a sustainable net-zero emissions future. Some novel aspects are highlighted, but the general aim is rather to stimulate discussion in rethinking catalysis from an alternative perspective.

Key words: Electrocatalysis, e-Fuels, Solar fuels, Mechanistic understanding, Catalysis, CO2, NH3