EU project kick-off: "SUNGATE" – A novel technology platform for highly efficient carbon neutral production of solar fuels
In October 2023, the EU project "SUNGATE" commenced under the coordination of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and in collaboration with 11 partners from research and industry. SUNGATE aims to engineer a novel, circular, sustainable and cost-efficient bio-hybrid technology to achieve the highly-efficient and scalable production of solar fuels in systems ranging from portable temporary installations to larger-scale solutions.
Amidst the energy transition and ongoing climate change, solar fuels are a sustainable solution for environmental-friendly energy supply for mobility, households and industry. A promising approach for solar fuel production is artificial photosynthesis (AP). However, current systems are inefficient, expensive and unsuitable for industrial deployment. The EU project "SUNGATE", aims to overcome these limitations by combining the principles of AP with photoelectrocatalysis and flow microreactor technology. As a result, the project will bring about the first modular full-cell continuous flow microreactor technology that requires sunlight as its only energy source as well as water and CO2 as simple, abundant feedstocks for conversion into solar fuels such as methanol and formate.
Apart from coordinating the SUNGATE project, the Fraunhofer IME will be responsible for the production of biohybrid, CO2 reducing biocatalysators. Moreover, we will significantly contribute to enhancing the properties of the photoactive components of the red algae Cyanidioschyzon merolae.
In contrast to state-of-the-art photoelectrochemical (PEC) technologies, SUNGATE will not use toxic or critical raw materials, and will combine efficient water oxidation catalysts with novel biohybrid CO2 reducing catalysts onto nanostructured electrodes to radically improve the efficiency of conversion. The unique modular and scalable design of SUNGATE technology will allow a flexible defossilised production of solar fuels for diverse applications ranging from decentralised energy infrastructure to closed carbon cycles for sectors that emit large amounts of CO2 (e.g., cement, steel and chemical industry).
SUNGATE aims to achieve a fully integrated solar-to-fuel demonstrator at TRL5. This would result in a technology breakthrough that has the potential to secure the future global energy supply at an affordable cost and meets the central goal of the European Green Deal and the European Climate Law to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The project’s interdisciplinary consortium of 12 academic, RTO and industry partners from six EU countries and Turkey will engage in the full validation of the technology, including life cycle assessment, as well as effective dissemination and knowledge transfer to accelerate industrial uptake. SUNGATE received a total budget of about 4.9 million euros from the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme under the Grant Agreement 101122061and will run until September 30, 2027.
- Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, Germany
- Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering and Microsystems IMM, Germany
- Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC, Germany
- University of Warsaw, Poland
- Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia, Spain
- University of Stuttgart, Germany
- Ulm University, Germany
- Ghent University, Belgium
- Tarsus University, Turkey
- 2.-0 LCA consultants, Denmark
- Danish Board of Technology, Denmark
- Chemtrix BV, Netherlands