Novel photo-assisted systems for direct solar-driven reduction of CO2 to energy rich chemicals

SUN2CHEM is a research and innovation project running from Oct. 2020 to Sept. 2023. The EU funded project gathers 15 partners working on innovative ways to convert sunlight into storable chemical energy through photocatalysis and photoelectrocatalysis.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 884444


SUN2CHEM focuses on the technical development of semiconductor architectures capable of achieving the solar-driven reduction of CO2 to ethylene. Given the extreme challenge we are facing, the technical part of this project will includes two related approaches with different engineering aspects as to reduce the risk and increase the chances of reaching the ambitious project targets:

  • A tandem photoelectrochemical device (PEC): separated and individually optimised photocathode and photoanode will be integrated into an up-scalable efficient and stable tandem photoelectrochemical device incorporating earth-abundant catalysts photoelectrodes. The most active composite electrodes will then be integrated into tandem PECs to be tested. With the efforts from all partners, the target is to bring photoelectrodes to TRL5, and the CO2 reduction systems from TRL2 to TRL4. The photo-driven CO2 to ethylene PEC prototype will be validated under simulated real conditions to determine its performance and durability.
  • A photocatalytic reactor (PC): applied research on photocatalytic heterojunctions, plasmonics, and multi-phase composites to drive both reactions (reduction and oxidation) simultaneously will be carried out to take advantage of their improved light-harvesting and charge carrier separation capabilities. The optimized photocatalytic systems will be integrated into a single reactor with either suspended photocatalyst solution or gas-solid configuration to be tested under sunlight conditions.

In addition to this highly technical core, SUN2CHEM has the ambition to perform related environmental and societal studies in order to integrate the developed technology within a context of circular economy, assess the energy security impacts on end-users and increase the social acceptance of chemicals produced from sunlight conversion. A prospective market analysis and roadmap towards the upscaling of the technology will then evaluate its medium-term potential and establish pathways towards its future industrial development. Activities of dissemination, communication, and participation in Mission Innovation are also at the core of the project to promote broader knowledge-transfer, collaboration, and leverage of the results.

SUN2CHEM Project



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