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CHARM: From CO2 to Hydrocarbons in A circular bioelectRo- and photo-cheMical system

Project description

Towards more efficient bio-based conversion of biomass to transport fuel

Fossil fuels are energy held in the chemical bonds of formerly living organisms via their carbon 'backbones' and their mainly hydrocarbon (hydrogen and carbon) structures. Harnessing the existing and growing infrastructure for hydrogen and hydrocarbon such as methane (CH4) via the bio-based conversion of biomass is a promising way to transition high-power transport such as shipping and trucking to renewable energy. However, current conversion processes are inefficient and of limited sustainability. The EU-funded CHARM project is developing bio-based processes relying on microbial fermentation, bioelectrochemical synthesis and bio-photocatalysis to produce light-weight hydrocarbons from biomass and CO2. The project's outcomes will contribute significantly towards Europe's goal to rely on more sustainable energy sources.


The transport sector is one of the largest and fastest growing energy consumers, and one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize. Although there are projections of a rapid increase in low-power electric vehicles, there is still uncertainty in decarbonising high-power transport vehicles (ships and long-haul trucks). The European Union has committed to achieving at least 27% renewable energy share of gross energy consumption by 2030. A practical implementation is to produce advanced biofuels using bio-based technologies e.g. bio/electro/photo catalysis. These technologies can be used either alone or in a combined way to produce desired products e.g. hydrogen, methane, carboxylic acids, and hydrocarbons. Among these options, hydrocarbons are advantageous due to their versatile use and valorisation opportunities. However, current conversion technologies pose significant challenges: (1) whole cell fermentation is vulnerable to many factors (e.g. products inhibition), whist a wide range of by-products may be produced due to diverse pathways; and (2) traditional linear conversion processes have limited sustainability.
To tackle these issues, I propose a two-year fellowship (CHARM) based on the Biocatalysis group led by Prof Hollmann in TU Delft. CHARM proposes a novel bio-based circular approach to enable production of light-weight hydrocarbons from both biomass and CO2 by integrating microbial fermentation, bioelectrochemical synthesis and bio-photocatalysis. CHARM will explore production of caproic acid as a platform chemical and its bio-photocatalytic conversion to value added C5 hydrocarbon (i.e. from CO2 to C5H12), whilst fulfilling CO2 recycle. Through this fellowship, I will reach a level of maturity on not only several scientific aspects but also on managerial and industrial aspects that will provide me new career opportunities. The completion of CHARM will contribute to establishing me as a leading researcher in biofuels/bioenergy.



Net EU contribution
€ 187 572,48
Stevinweg 1
2628 CN Delft

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West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Delft en Westland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00