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Photosynthetic electron focusing technology for direct efficient biohydrogen production from solar energy

Project description

Clean, cheap hydrogen from synthetic bacteria

Certain bacteria can split water into hydrogen and oxygen using light. Taking a cue from nature, the EU-funded PhotoSynH2 project aims to develop genetically modified bacteria (cyanobacteria) able to convert solar energy to hydrogen. For their synthesis, researchers will employ a novel synthetic biology approach called photosynthetic electron focusing. The bacteria could be adapted and grown in seawater and wastewater. To realise a scalable approach, researchers will target the development of large-scale photobioreactors that could demonstrate a tenfold increase in efficiency compared to the state of the art. The theoretical estimates for hydrogen production costs could be as low as EUR 5/kg, rendering the proposed technology cost competitive compared to current systems integrating photovoltaics and electrolysers.

Objective

We propose a disruptive technology based on synthetic biology, we call photosynthetic electron focusing, for the efficient production of hydrogen using low-cost photosynthetic bacteria (cyanobacteria) genetically re-engineered to exclusively direct the solar energy to hydrogen. Through the development of new high-efficiency large-scale photobioreactors we will obtain an unprecedented increase in the energy efficiency up to ten-fold higher than current approaches. Our theoretical estimates for the production costs could be as low as 5€/Kg of H2, making our technology potentially comparable to current photovoltaic coupled to electrolysis. Our bacteria could be adapted and grown in sea water and wastewater. Moreover, it would not require using Critical Raw Materials or toxic processes. Our biological route involves using fermentation-like technologies, with expertise available in many sectors such as the food industry. It will also employ contained bioreactors, constructed with simple fabrication technologies, which are decreasing in cost (e.g. the cost of 3D printing materials is decreasing much faster than the cost of microfabrication). We will validate our engineered cyanobacterium in a custom 1,300 L photobioreactor, which will be able to produce validated innovative green H2 production technology. This proof-of-concept production will be located in a hydrogen industrial stakeholder to ensure the large-scale relevance of our production.

Coordinator

AGENCIA ESTATAL CONSEJO SUPERIOR DE INVESTIGACIONES CIENTIFICAS
Net EU contribution
€ 1 175 697,50
Address
CALLE SERRANO 117
28006 Madrid
Spain

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Region
Comunidad de Madrid Comunidad de Madrid Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
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Total cost
€ 1 175 697,50

Participants (5)