The first meeting of the European project Bac-To-Fuel (Bacterial Conversion of CO2 and renewable H2 into biofuels), coordinated by Prof. M. Arturo López Quintela’s group at USC, was held at the USC on 12th February 2019. In addition to the USC, this € 3 million H2020-funded project also includes research groups from the University of Lancaster (ULANC), United Kingdom (Theoretical Physics, Prof. Colin Lambert), the University of Wageningen (UW), The Netherlands (Bioprocess Engineering, Prof. Ruud Weusthuis), the Technical University of Berlin (TUB), Germany (Chemical Engineering, Prof. Reinhard Schomäcker), as well as the companies NANOGAP, Santiago de Compostela (Nanomaterials: atomic quantum clusters -AQC, Dr Allen Reid) and VITO, Belgium (Sustainable Chemistry: Carbon capture and utilisation, Dr Deepak Pant).
The use of solar light to photogenerate hydrogen from water is currently a very inefficient process (≈0.1%). This project aims to use sub-nanometre quantum clusters (USC, NANOGAP) to boost hydrogen evolution (≈10% ULANC, USC) in order to achieve pilot scale production at competitive prices (USC, TUB). An important breakthrough is also expected for the bioproduction of biofuel: genetically modified bacteria (UW) will be able to reduce atmospheric CO2 (VITO) with the photogenerated hydrogen (TUB, USC, VITO). By integrating leading groups in this field, a novel design will be produced that will enable the EU to become a world leader in the competitive photo-bio production of fuel. Using this process, CO2 pollution will also be simultaneously removed from the environment. This challenging interdisciplinary project will be monitored by Dr Maria Georgiadou (Project Officer, Brussels).