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Disruptive photonic devices for highly efficient, sunlight-fueled chemical processes

Project description

Photonics technology to turn carbon dioxide into fuels

The EU-funded SPOTLIGHT project will work on a new photonic device to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen into methane and carbon monoxide which is the starting material for producing methanol. Both methane and methanol fuels could find use in cars and energy storage applications. SPOTLIGHT's photonic device will comprise a transparent flow reactor optimised for light incoupling in the catalyst bed, secondary solar optics to concentrate sunlight and project it onto the reactor, and an energy-efficient light-emitting diode to work towards continuous round-the-clock operation. The new device and process concept are well suited for CO2 sources up to 1 Mt per year, which makes them complementary to existing large-scale carbon capture and utilisation processes.

Objective

SPOTLIGHT’s key objective is to develop and validate a photonic device and chemical process concept for the sunlight-powered conversion of CO2 and green H2 to the chemical fuel methane (CH4, Sabatier process), and to carbon monoxide (CO, reverse water gas shift process) as starting material for production of the chemical fuel methanol (CH3OH). Both CH4 and CH3OH are compatible with our current infrastructure, and suited for multiple applications such as car fuel, energy storage, and starting material for the production of valuable chemicals.

SPOTLIGHT’s photonic device will comprise a transparent flow reactor, optimized for light incoupling in the catalyst bed. Furthermore, it will comprise secondary solar optics to concentrate natural sunlight and project it onto the reactor, and an energy efficient LED light source to ensure continuous 24/7 operation.

SPOTLIGHT’s catalysts will be plasmonic catalysts, capable of absorbing the entire solar spectrum. The space-time-yield achieved to date with these catalysts in the Sabatier and rWGS process are > 104 times higher than for conventional semiconductor catalysts. This makes the concept technically feasible for scale up without excessive land use, and makes it economically much more attractive because of strongly reduced capital expenditures.

SPOTLIGHT’s photonic device and process concept are perfectly suited for CO2 sources up to 1 Mt p.a. which makes them complementary to existing large scale CCU processes. For the EU, we estimate that the annual CO2 reduction through use of SPOTLIGHT’s technology is maximized to 800 Mt, which is approximately 18% of the current annual total. This could generate an amount of CH4 produced in the EU which equals 14.5 EJ of energy, corresponding to 21% of the EU’s current annual energy use, and representing a value of € 393 bil. Ergo, SPOTLIGHT’s technology reduces the dependence of the EU on non-EU countries for its energy supply, and initiates a new multi-billion industry.

Call for proposal

H2020-ICT-2018-20

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Sub call

H2020-ICT-2020-2

Coordinator

NEDERLANDSE ORGANISATIE VOOR TOEGEPAST NATUURWETENSCHAPPELIJK ONDERZOEK TNO
Net EU contribution
€ 911 718,75
Address
ANNA VAN BUERENPLEIN 1
2595 DA Den Haag
Netherlands

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Region
West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Agglomeratie ’s-Gravenhage
Activity type
Research Organisations
Links
Total cost
€ 911 718,75

Participants (12)