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A conversation with Alexandra Tavasoli

March 11, 2019 By: Barry Chong

What is your company trying to do?

Solistra converts CO2 into liquid fuels using solar-activated nanomaterials called photocatalysts. These light-activated photocatalysts are our principal technology. By shining light directly onto our photocatalytic materials, we can activate a CO2-photocatalyst reaction system to begin the transformation of CO2 to downstream products.

In the long-term, Solistra wants to fundamentally change the chemical industry. The principle of photocatalysis can, in theory, be extended to a wide variety of chemical reactions, meaning there is potential to not only eliminate the emissions of existing processes, but to replace them with emissions-free photocatalytic processes entirely.

Now that you’re a finalist, you have about two years ahead of you to develop your tech. How would you describe the first few months of this challenge?

While the hard work associated with setting up a business in this first quarter has been mainly technical, I’ve been thinking more long-term about the culture that Solistra will take on as it grows. I want to make sure our technology and business goals align with the greater social impact goals inherent in sustainability.

What has surprised you most so far?

The best part of the program has been visiting several national labs to get an overview of the expertise and facilities available to us at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). It’s exciting that I’ll be able to continue my technical work throughout the course of this program with the support of NRCan, and that I’ll be able to improve my R&D skills while learning from its top-notch research staff.

What are you hoping to achieve over the next few months?

Over the next quarter, we’re hoping to conclude our technology validation that has been under way for roughly one year now, and to finalize our designs for our first two demonstration units.

What was your New Year’s resolution?

To take more holiday time — challenge permitted, of course.

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