From solar energy to fuel: A holistic artificial photosynthesis platform for the production of viable solar fuels
REFINE develops and demonstrates a system of artificial photosynthesis by combining both dark and light-dependent reactions for the direct production of high energy density and essential chemicals, such as alcohols. To achieve this, a direct hydrogen storage into hydrocarbons through CO2 capture and transformation in an advanced bio-refining system is proposed. In this, hydrogen produced by water photoelectrolysis is combined with captured CO2 and directly fed to biocultures that selectively produce isopropanol and butanol as high energy solar fuels, and the only energy input to drive this radical technological system is sunlight. To realise and bring to the market such a system of artificial photosynthesis it is necessary to converge the fields of materials science, biotechnology, engineering and social sciences.
The project organisation is multicentred and operates at different levels; from raw materials supply considerations, societal acceptance, materials engineering and nanostructuring to device assembling and applicability. The true converging nature of REFINE provides a holistic, ground-breaking approach that addresses major challenges of our modern societies such as the extensive CO2 emissions and inability for efficient and widely accepted CO2 recycling. The vision in REFINE extends well beyond the 4-year activities proposed in this application. Still, REFINE is the seed for a multidimensional approach to critical scientific and societal challenges.