Over 80% of the world’s primary energy supply is currently provided by fossil fuels. Decarbonisation of humanities’ energy supply chain holds the key to our future wellbeing. The recently launched European project CONDOR, COmbined suN-Driven Oxidation and CO2 Reduction for renewable energy storage, aims at developing highly efficient solar-driven conversion of CO2 into fuels and added-value chemicals.
ICIQ’s Llobet group has joined the four-year-long project which strives to create a modular photosynthetic device. CONDOR’s modular approach enables different configurations depending on the target product. This way, the device is proposed to be made of two compartments: a photoelectrochemical cell that splits water and CO2 and generates oxygen and syngas (a mixture of H2 and CO) and a second compartment where said syngas is transformed into methanol and dimethylether (DME), via bi-functional heterogeneous catalysts. The final target is a full photosynthetic device with 8% solar-to-syngas and 6% solar-to-DME efficiencies with a three-months continuous outdoor operation.
“CONDOR proposes an innovative approach that consists of properly combining molecules and materials into a single device and extracting the best of both worlds,” says Toni Llobet, ICIQ group leader and member of the project.
The device proposal represents large progress for the state of the art and requires international collaboration and a multidisciplinary approach, which integrates expertise in nanomaterials preparation and characterisation by operando microscopy and spectroscopy, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, photochemistry and photoelectrochemistry, PEC engineering and assessment of the environmental and socio-economic impact of the proposed technology, including life cycle assessment.
The consortium brings together ten international institutions: University of Bologna (Italy) as coordinator, ICIQ (Spain), the Italian Research Council (Italy), University of Utrecht (The Netherlands), the University of Ferrara (Italy), ENGIE Laborelec (Belgium), the University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill (United States of America), Engie (France), Amires SRO (Czech Republic) and Hygear (The Netherlands).
CONDOR is framed within the Social Challenges programme “Secure, clean and efficient energy” of the Horizon 2020 Framework. Specifically, it belongs to the call ‘Developing the next generation of renewable energy technologies’ of the “Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future” programme.
With a 3.989.116,25€ total budget, CONDOR is the fourth European project related to artificial photosynthesis in which the Llobet group is involved. At present, they coordinate LICROX, participate in eSCALED and formerly they were involved in Solar-H2.