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SOlar Energy to power CO2 REduction towards C2 chemicals for energy storage

Project description

Fuel production looks to the sun

The sun is creating new opportunities to use the greenhouse gas CO2 in the development of fuels like ethanol or ethylene. The process is key to accelerating the decarbonisation of the transport industry and slowing climate change. With this in mind, the EU-funded SOREC2 project will bring together expertise in photonic structure design and catalysis to ensure optimal sunlight harvesting. SOREC2 will develop a new system that relies on light-trapping nano-configurations. It will enable fine-tuning of the potential energy needed for the reduction reactions. The project will also identify the non-technical barriers (political, economic, and societal) it may encounter and engage relevant stakeholders and citizens on the route towards market uptake.


SOREC2 aims at developing a breakthrough technology for a direct transformation of sunlight and CO2 into chemicals, such as ethanol or ethylene, for a safe energy storage. SOREC2 brings expertise in photonic structure design (for optimal sunlight harvesting) together with expertise in catalysis (to reduce CO2 into products that can store chemical energy or with a high economical interest). On the light harvesting side, ICFO will develop a system composed of three complementary light-absorbing elements in order to obtain the largest possible broadband sunlight harvesting. This system will rely on newly developed light trapping nano-configurations and will enable fine tuning of the potential energy needed for the reduction reactions via an innovative arrangement of the low, middle and high bandgap materials. CALTECH will develop a hybrid catalyst system, exploiting a novel combination of CO2 reduction catalysts with a redox/proton mediator to lower overpotentials and enhance selectivity towards C2 products such as ethanol or ethylene. For the photoanode, where the chemistry and the optics in a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) are interwoven, UAB and ICFO will design a multilayer configuration to achieve an optimal electro-chemistry, while not undermining the optical performance of such PEC. To ensure a transformation of the scientific research into a technology breakthrough with substantial economical and societal impacts, SOREC2 incorporates UNIFE to define the PEC upscaling roadmap and the companies GEM, SAULE, and VITSOLC for the creation of new markets. Finally, to identify non-technical barriers (such as political, economic, and societal) that SOREC2 may encounter, and to engage relevant stakeholders and citizens on the route towards market uptake, SOREC2 incorporates DBT, a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that technology development is shaped and informed by cooperation between citizens, experts, stakeholders, and decision-makers.


Net EU contribution
€ 817 353,75
08860 Castelldefels

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Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 817 353,75

Participants (6)

Partners (1)