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An Artificial Leaf: a photo-electro-catalytic cell from earth-abundant materials for sustainable solar production of CO2-based chemicals and fuels

Objective

A novel concept for a photo-electro-catalytic (PEC) cell able to directly convert water and CO2 into fuels and chemicals (CO2 reduction) and oxygen (water oxidation) using exclusively solar energy will be designed, built, validated, and optimized. The cell will be constructed from cheap multifunction photo-electrodes able to transform sun irradiation into an electrochemical potential difference (expected efficiency > 12%); ultra-thin layers and nanoparticles of metal or metal oxide catalysts for both half-cell reactions (expected efficiency > 90%); and stateof- the-art membrane technology for gas/liquid/products separation to match a theoretical target solar to fuels efficiency above 10%. All parts will be assembled to maximize performance in pH > 7 solution and moderate temperatures (50-80 ºC) as to take advantage of the high stability and favorable kinetics of constituent materials in these conditions. Achieving this goal we will improve the state-of-the-art of all components for the sake of cell integration:

1) Surface sciences: metal and metal oxide catalysts (crystals or nanostructures grown on metals or silicon) will be characterized for water oxidation and CO2 reduction through atomically resolved experiments (scanning probe microscopy) and spatially-averaged surface techniques including surface analysis before, after and in operando electrochemical reactions. Activity and performance will be correlated to composition, thickness, structure and support as to determine the optimum parameters for device integration.

2) Photoelectrodes: This unique surface knowledge will be transferred to the processing of catalytic nanostructures deposited on semiconductors through different methods to match the surface chemistry results through viable up-scaling processes. Multiple thermodynamic and kinetic techniques will be used to characterize and optimize the performance of the interfaces with spectroscopy and photo-electrochemistry tools to identify best matching between light absorbers and chemical catalysts along optimum working conditions (pH, temperature, pressure).

3) Modeling: Materials, catalysts and processes will be modeled with computational methods as a pivotal tool to understand and to bring photo-catalytic-electrodes to their theoretical limits in terms of performance.

The selected optimum materials and environmental conditions as defined from these parallel studies will be integrated into a PEC cell prototype. This design will include ion exchange membranes and gas diffusion electrodes for product separation. Performance will be validated in real working conditions under sun irradiation to assess the technological and industrial relevance of our A-LEAF cell.

Coordinator

FUNDACIO PRIVADA INSTITUT CATALA D'INVESTIGACIO QUIMICA
Net EU contribution
€ 879 712,50
Address
Avenida Paissos Catalans 16
43007 Tarragona
Spain
Activity type
Research Organisations
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00

Participants (14)

EIDGENOESSISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE ZUERICH
Switzerland
Net EU contribution
€ 855 935,00
Address
Raemistrasse 101
8092 Zuerich
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN
Netherlands
Net EU contribution
€ 619 188,75
Address
Rapenburg 70
2311 EZ Leiden
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
Region
West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Agglomeratie Leiden en Bollenstreek
FUNDACION IMDEA NANOCIENCIA
Spain
Net EU contribution
€ 618 125,00
Address
Calle Faraday 9 Ciudad Universitaria De Cantoblanco
28049 Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
Region
Comunidad de Madrid Comunidad de Madrid Madrid
ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE
Switzerland
Net EU contribution
€ 952 272,50
Address
Batiment Ce 3316 Station 1
1015 Lausanne
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
Region
Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Région lémanique Vaud
TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET WIEN
Austria
Net EU contribution
€ 547 612,50
Address
Karlsplatz 13
1040 Wien
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
UNIVERSITAT JAUME I DE CASTELLON
Spain
Net EU contribution
€ 443 770,00
Address
Avenida Vicent Sos Baynat S/n
12006 Castellon De La Plana
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
Region
Este Comunitat Valenciana Castellón/Castelló
IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE
United Kingdom
Net EU contribution
€ 488 522,50
Address
South Kensington Campus Exhibition Road
SW7 2AZ London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAT DARMSTADT
Germany
Net EU contribution
€ 686 250,00
Address
Karolinenplatz 5
64289 Darmstadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
FORSCHUNGSZENTRUM JULICH GMBH
Germany
Net EU contribution
€ 537 366,25
Address
Wilhelm Johnen Strasse
52428 Julich
Activity type
Research Organisations
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
UNIVERSITE DE MONTPELLIER
France
Net EU contribution
€ 529 775,84
Address
163 Rue Auguste Broussonnet
34090 Montpellier
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
Region
Occitanie Languedoc-Roussillon Hérault
 
Third-party

Legal entity other than a subcontractor which is affiliated or legally linked to a participant. The entity carries out work under the conditions laid down in the Grant Agreement, supplies goods or provides services for the action, but did not sign the Grant Agreement. A third party abides by the rules applicable to its related participant under the Grant Agreement with regard to eligibility of costs and control of expenditure.

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
France
Net EU contribution
€ 157 042,91
Address
Rue Michel Ange 3
75794 Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
CONSORZIO INTERUNIVERSITARIO NAZIONALE PER LA SCIENZA E TECNOLOGIA DEI MATERIALI
Italy
Net EU contribution
€ 389 982,50
Address
Via Giusti 9
50121 Firenze
Activity type
Research Organisations
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
Third-party

Legal entity other than a subcontractor which is affiliated or legally linked to a participant. The entity carries out work under the conditions laid down in the Grant Agreement, supplies goods or provides services for the action, but did not sign the Grant Agreement. A third party abides by the rules applicable to its related participant under the Grant Agreement with regard to eligibility of costs and control of expenditure.

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI MESSINA
Italy
Net EU contribution
€ 187 805,00
Address
Piazza Pugliatti 1
98122 Messina
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
COVESTRO DEUTSCHLAND AG
Germany
Net EU contribution
€ 87 500,00
Address
Kaiser Wilhelm Allee 60
51373 Leverkusen
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
Region
Nordrhein-Westfalen Köln Leverkusen, Kreisfreie Stadt