Artificial photosynthesis to produce fuels and chemicals with microorganisms.
Project PHOTO2FUEL: Artificial photosynthesis to produce fuels and chemicals – hybrid systems with microorganisms for improved light harvesting and CO
The PHOTO2FUEL project aims to develop a breakthrough technology that converts CO2 into useful fuels and chemicals by means of non-photosynthetic microorganisms and organic materials, using only sunlight as energy source.
PHOTO2FUEL’s technology is based on the artificial photosynthesis concept and uses a hybrid system of non-photosynthetic microorganisms and organic photosensitisers to produce acetic acid and methane, using Moorella thermoacetica (bacteria) and Methanosarcina barkeri (archaea) strains, respectively.
After optimization and characterization, this hybrid non-photosynthetic microorganisms with organic photosensitiser system are placed into an auto sufficient photomicro- reactor running exclusively with sunlight. During the day, the natural sunlight is used, and, during the night, artificial light is utilized from previous stored solar energy in batteries (excess sunlight). This approach guarantees the continuous operation of the photo-micro-reactor. Additionally, a solar concentrator is coupled to the reactor to maximize conversion and stabilize the production of fuels and chemicals, even with variant solar flux.
The PHOTO2FUEL project also investigates technologies for the separation of the main products – acetic acid and methane – and deliver solutions to achieve high separation efficiency. The overall sustainability of the PHOTO2FUEL’s technology is analyzed, including the environmental, economic, and social aspects. Lastly, the market, barriers, and key stakeholders are analyzed from an end-user perspective, aiming at advancing the technology’s TRL-4 after the project completion and, thus, actively supporting the transition to a climate neutral Europe by 2050.
Our main tasks
- Project coordination
- Development of a holistic mathematical model for Photo2Fuel’ systems
- Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) problem
- Selection of the final device to be further upscaled
- Design and basic engineering of the final selected device Simulation of the mini-solar plant in continuous operation
- Social LCA
- Holistic sustainability assessment and process circularity
- Holistic evaluation of Photo2Fuel from stakeholders’ perspectives
- Photo2Fuel’s market analysis
- Photo2Fuel’s roadmap for future research
- Decision Support System (DSS) for stakeholders
ETH | IDENER.AI | INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY, CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES | KNEIA | TECNALIA | UNIVERSITEIT VAN AMSTERDAM | UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES LANDSHUT | UPPSALA UNIVERSITET
Start date – finish date
09 / 2022 - 08 / 2025
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nº 101069357