Researchers from across Europe gathered last week at ICIQ for the scientific kick off of the European School for Artificial Leaf Electrode Devices (eSCALED) project. Officially launched on April 2018, eSCALED is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action project with a double ambition: to train the researchers of the future and to develop a device able to store solar energy in a chemical form.
“I have been thinking about this project for several years, and now it’s finally a reality!” says Laurent Billon, professor and researcher at Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour and eSCALED Project Coordinator. “We need to find a way to use the CO2 produced by human activity. Even if we reduce CO2 emissions, we will still produce CO2, so we need to re-use it. Nature has been re-using CO2 for over 3 billion years, so we should be inspired by it and find a way to use CO2 as feedstock, just like plants do” explains Billon.
To achieve the scientific challenge of artificial photosynthesis, biologists, chemists, and other scientists will need to work together. That’s just what the eSCALED project aims to do by joining an Innovative Training Network (ITN). The eSCALED coordinators have gathered a multidisciplinary consortium of scientists who, during the next four years, will work to create a scalable photosynthetic device, capable of absorbing solar and storing it under a chemical form. “The output of the project is to create an up scalable device – which could really make an impact on our society,” explains Laia Francesch, eSCALED Project Manager.
“We need to train students in a different way in order to get better researchers. We want our students to have more skills than they would learn on a normal training scheme, we want our students to understand the [artificial photosynthesis] problematic in a holistic way. They will become experts in their field whom also see the big picture,” says Francesch. “Maybe it’s impossible to improve our current lifestyle, but if we invest in circular economy solutions, we will find a way to use the CO2 we are now producing and we’ll at least continue to have the same lifestyle we have now,” Billon concludes.