SOLAR-H2 brings together 12 world-leading European laboratories to carry out integrated, basic research aimed at achieving renewable hydrogen (H2) production from environmentally safe resources. The vision is to develop novel routes for the production of a Solar-fuel, in our case H2, from the very abundant, effectively inexhaustible resources, solar energy and water. Our multidisciplinary expertise spans from molecular biology, biotechnology, via biochemistry and biophysics to organo-metallic and physical chemistry. The project integrates two frontline research topics: artificial photosynthesis in man-made biomimetic systems, and photobiological H2 production in living organisms. H2 production by these methods on a relevant scale is still distant but has a vast potential and is of utmost importance for the future European economy. The scientific risk is high - the research is very demanding. Thus, our overall objective now, is to explore, integrate and provide the basic science necessary to develop these novel routes and advance them toward new horizons. Along the first track, the knowledge gained from biochemical/biophysical studies of efficient enzymes will be exploited by organometallic chemists to design and synthesize bio-mimetic compounds for artificial photosynthesis. The design of these molecules is based on molecular knowledge about how natural photosynthesis works and how hydrogenase enzymes form H2. Along the second track, we perform research and development on the genetic level to increase our understanding of critical H2 forming reactions in photosynthetic alga and cyanobacteria. These studies are directly aimed at the improvement of the H2 producing capability of the organisms using novel genetic and metabolic engineering. The project also involves research aimed at demonstrating the concept of photobiological H2 production in photobioreactors.
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