Giacomo Ciamician was professor of Chemistry at the University of Bologna from 1889 to 1922. Inspired by the ability of plants to make use of solar energy, he was the first scientist to investigate the photochemical reactions in a systematic way, so that he is now considered a pioneer of modern photochemistry. In a famous address presented before the VIII International Congress of Applied
Chemistry, held in New York in 1912, he strongly suggested to replace “fossil solar energy” (i.e, coal) with the energy that the earth receives from the sun every day.
In particular, he forecasted the production of fuels by means of artificial photochemical reactions (artificial photosynthesis), which is still one of the most important goals of current research in the field of chemistry. The possibility of obtaining fuels (particularly dihydrogen) from solar energy would indeed solve two great problems of the present day society: energy and environment.
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