The Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), a BIST centre, has received grants for six new research projects funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MCIN) and European Union “Next Generation” funds.
Two of the funded projects, led by Prof. Julio Lloret and Prof. JR Galán-Mascarós, have been awarded through grants that aim to promote the culture of transfer and the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of research groups, as well as contribute to strengthening the strategies for transferring knowledge and results of the beneficiary institutions of said projects. The aim of the grants awarded to the other four projects, which are led by Prof. Emilio Palomares, Prof. Carles Bo, Prof. Julio Lloret, and Prof. Elisabet Romero, is to promote R+D+i activities to increase the competitiveness and international leadership of science and technology from Spain through the generation of scientific knowledge by way of quality research oriented towards the ecological transition and the digital transition.
SolarBioCharges, headed by Dr. Elisabet Romero, will design and construct bio-inspired chromophore-protein assemblies for efficient and sustainable solar-energy conversion to charge separation. The energy of the Sun is the most promising energy source to contribute to our society’s ecological transition and attain a more sustainable future, since it fulfils the requirements of being a renewable, widespread, safe, and inexpensive energy supply. However, the sunlight that reaches the Earth needs to be transformed into a useful energy form for human consumption (for instance electricity or solar fuels). SolarBioCharges project aims to design and construct novel systems capable of absorbing solar energy and converting it into a stable separation of charges. To do so, the project will use a new generation of bio-inspired systems made of abundant and biodegradable materials based on the design principles of photosynthesis. To unravel the design principles of photosynthetic charge separation, a collection of steady-state and time-resolved spectroscopic techniques will be used, combined with theoretical modelling. Learn more about SolarBioCharges here.
SOLARCO (Solar Energy Driven CO2 Reduction), headed by Prof. Emilio Palomares, aims to efficiently couple solar cells in tandem configuration (subproject 1) with the catalytic reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2RR) using active metal sites embedded in doped graphitic carbon-based materials as electro active catalysts (subproject 2) in order to achieve self-sufficient devices able to produce carbonaceous materials of interest in locations not connected to the electrical grid. Learn more about SOLARCO here.
Data4Mat (Linked chemical databases to boost materials discovery), headed by Prof. Carles Bo, will boost the digital discovery of new catalysts to help solve crucial societal challenges such as climate change and the quest for alternative energy sources by applying modern computational chemistry methods and advanced data treatment. Fixing CO2 to create value-added chemicals such as organic carbonates and/or polycarbonates, and finding catalytic materials to form hydrogen efficiently are the two main targets of the project. To do so, Data4Mat will create the Reaction Mechanisms Knowledge Base, a new type of well-structured database that will allow for the representation of all the chemical knowledge and properties around catalytic processes in a comprehensive and machine-readable way. Learn more about Data4Mat here.
Auto4Fuel, led by Prof. Julio Lloret, will develop new highly active, selective, and robust catalysts for the electrocatalytic CO2RR. The development of greener production methods is critical to ensure a future sustainable society. On these grounds, photo and electrochemical sustainable processes can be powered by renewal energy sources (sunlight, wind, etc.) for the transformation of abundant molecules (water, CO2, etc.) to produce synthetic fuels and chemicals. The electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) plays a central role and holds the promise to ultimately deliver sustainable and economically viable industrial processes to produce renewable CO2 neutral fuels mitigating (or replacing) the use of fossil fuels. However, one of the bottlenecks to produce fuels and chemicals from CO2 is that current electrocatalysts still lack the requirements for the industrial development. In this regard, In Auto4Fuel, we will develop new highly active, selective, and robust catalysts for the electrocatalytic CO2RR by two approaches: i) molecular catalysts to learn basic principles of the mechanisms and ii) by nanoparticles obtained by solution combustion. Learn more about Auto4Fuel here.
ELECTRA-4-Fuel, led by Prof. Julio Lloret’s research group, comprises the validation of new technology for the fabrication of catalytic electrodes, the solution-combustion method, in CO2 electroreduction to carbon monoxide (CO). CO obtained from CO2 electrolysis, when using renewable energy, is an excellent product to advance the decarbonization of our society, providing access to platform chemicals. Nevertheless, CO2 to CO electrolysis technologies still suffer from low current densities and high overpotential. It cannot yet economically beat the CO obtained from producer gas, a mixture mainly containing carbon monoxide and nitrogen, formed by the combustion of carbon in the air at high temperatures. The ELECTRA-4-FUEL patented solution-combustion method allows the growth of catalytically active materials on top of metal such as carbon-based gas diffusion layers, metal foams, and felts, forming stable and active catalysts that can operate at pH 10-13. The method is fast and straightforward, versatile, more catalytic efficient and cost-effective. ELECTRA-4-Fuel will advance the technology to the market by validating the solution-combustion method to generate electrodes operative under industrially relevant conditions. Learn more about ELCTRA-4-Fuel here.
COCAP, led by Prof. JR Galán-Mascarós, will bring novel technology for CO2 capture closer to market. TAMOF-1, a high surface-area (BET > 1200 m2/g) metal-organic framework has shown a high selectivity towards CO2, with robust thermal, chemical, and mechanical stability and cyclability. Breakthrough data confirms this material is able to separate CO2 from a variety of permanent gases, including N2 O2, H2, CO, and CH4, while operating at low (ambient) pressure, and offering low-energy/low-cost options for regeneration. These features open the possibility to use TAMOF-1 as the basis for a novel technology for CO2 capture. Learn more about COCAP here.