Erwin Reisner

Erwin Reisner is the Professor of Energy and Sustainability in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St. John’s College. He is an expert in renewable energy and sustainable chemistry, in particular the sunlight-powered production of sustainable fuels and platform chemicals. His cross-disciplinary research into solar chemical synthesis technologies focuses on the capture and utilisation of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide as well as the valorisation of plastics and biomass waste to produce green fuels and chemicals for a circular economy.

Erwin and his team have developed strategies for the integration of synthetic and biological catalysts with semiconductor and photovoltaic light absorbers. The assembly of such 'hybrid materials' and 'semi-artificial photosynthesis' systems has led to the construction of autonomous solar-powered reactors for solar fuel production, where his team demonstrated the conversion of carbon dioxide into fuels, such as carbon monoxide, formic acid, multi-carbon alcohols or acetate, while co-producing oxygen from water through artificial photosynthesis. Erwin’s laboratory has also shown the assembly of solar technologies for the upcycling of solid lignocellulosic biomass and plastic waste to platform chemicals and fuels through 'solar reforming’ and has demonstrated the potential of sustainable carbon photocatalysts for solar fuel and organic synthesis.

Erwin’s research on solar chemical synthesis has been supported and recognised by several grants, such as an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship (2009-2015), the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Sustainable SynGas Chemistry (2012-2019), a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant (2016-2023) and an ERC/UKRI Advanced Grant (2023-2028), as well as awards, such as the Corday-Morgan Prize by the Royal Society of Chemistry (2018), the Galvani Prize of the Bioelectrochemical Society (2022) and the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society (2023). He is the academic lead (PI) of the Cambridge Circular Plastics Centre (CirPlas; since 2019), co-director of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Functional Nano (nanoCDT) in Cambridge, and has previously acted as the academic lead of the UK Solar Fuels Network, which coordinates the national activities in artificial photosynthesis (2017-2021).