The efficient storage and utilisation of solar energy in the form of chemicals or chemical energy will play a key role to transform the European industry into a low-carbon economy. In the long term, there will be a need for highly integrated solutions enabling the carbon-neutral production of high-value chemicals or energy, which is crucial to reduce CO2 emissions. The development of integrated processes will require a systems-catalysis approach that includes engineering aspects as small-scale and intermittent operation.
Development of cheap materials and integrated processes/devices for the direct photocatalytic conversion of CO2 (from anthropogenic CO2 sources and/or from air) and H2O to fuels and/or chemicals, with an overall solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of >20%, with the following goals:
- Improve selectivity and efficiency by rational engineering of the bandgap and electronic structures;
- Realise a new design of multi-heterojunction materials with scalable preparation for Z-scheme mimicking;
- Design multifunctional photocatalysts for simultaneous CO2 reduction and H2O oxidation;
- Optimise solar photoreactors (light harvesting, mass transfer, reactivity);
- Couple photo-assisted and non-photo-assisted catalytic processes for C-C bond formation.
Proposals should assess the efficiency, reduction of the steps and costs with respect to the overall process, as well as the advantages of the proposed technology in terms of social/environment impact with respect to conventional production of the same chemicals and/or fuels. The scalability and exploitability of the devices should be analysed. The validation of the technology should be carried out by a demonstration of a photo- or photo-electrochemical reactor/integrated device of the size of the existing photovoltaic cells.
In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is particularly encouraged.
Activities should start at TRL 3 and achieve TRL 5 at the end of the project.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 5 and 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Development of cost-efficient systems based on multifunctional photo catalytic system which should enable upscaling and process intensification, with:
- Increased efficiency of the system with sunlight to chemical energy conversion efficiency (to chemicals other than H2) higher than 5%;
- Improved stability/robustness of the system under extended operational conditions, with loss of performances <5% in 1000h;
- Cost reduction/effectiveness of the system, including recycling if relevant and continuous product recovery, with cost of production of chemicals comparable to actual route from fossil fuels, but with an improved energy efficiency and <50% CO2 emissions (based on Life Cycle Assessment).
Relevant indicators and metrics, with baseline values, should be clearly stated in the proposal.