30 April 2020 New FET Proactive project to convert sunlight into chemical energy

ICFO collaborates to implement PECs for artificial photosynthesis contributing to the fight against climate change There is increasing urgency to combat monumental worldwide challenges such as global warming that affect the environment, health and the economy. In what seeks to be a step forward on the path to fight climate change, ICFO will participate in LICROX, a new “Boosting emerging technologies” Future Emerging Technologies programme (FET) Proactive project within the Horizon 2020 program. The project aims to implement a new type of Photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) that mimics photosynthesis.

PECs have the potential to become efficient and cost-effective technologies, able to directly convert sunlight into chemical energy. By incorporating three complementary light absorbing elements, the LICROX devices will be able to drive both water oxidation and CO2 reduction reactions to convert sunlight to stored chemical energy. To achieve an effective large-scale replacement of fossil fuels, the PECs fabricated within the LICROX project will use an innovative combination of light absorbing materials and powerful molecular transition metal complexes as catalyst for both the oxidation and the reduction reactions. The final PECs will consist of low-cost materials and device architectures that will avoid large accumulations of hazardous or toxic products.

LICROX, bringing together an interdisciplinary team of scientists from academia and industry, will be coordinated by Prof. Antoni Llobet at ICIQ- Institut Català d’Investigació Química. The research group led by UPC Prof. at ICFO Jordi Martorell will consider novel mechanisms of light trapping to enhance the transformation of the sunlight energy into energy stored in chemical bonds.

Other partners include Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, EPFL (Switzerland), Technische Universitaet Muenchen, TMU (Germany), Avantama AG (Switzerland), Onden Teknologiradet (Denmark) and Hysytech SRL (Italy).

LICROX will pave the road for a new scalable renewable energy technology. Avantama AG, Hysytech SRL and a newly developed spin-off from ICFO will work towards the industrial implementation and commercialization of the technology.