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Overall Aim: Bac-To-Fuel project will develop and demonstrate advanced renewable fuel production by developing means of generating hydrogen from atomic quantum cluster (AQC) photocatalysis followed by biological conversion of CO2 and hydrogen into useful alcohols achieved through the following objectives:

  1. To refine the system requirements for producing biofuels (material selection, components, scale-up, final product to extract). 
  2. To synthesise and scale up production of different sized silver AQCs absorbing in a wide range of solar spectrum (300-900nm) and in conjunction with modelling and simulation work targeting the following: 
    - Using the Electrochemical synthesis (ECS) method to produce lab-scale quantities of small AQCs (2-7atoms) (mg/day) by Month 2 (TRL4) and pilot-scale quantities (1g/day) by month 12 (TRL5)
    - Using the photochemical/chemical reduction (P/CR) method to produce lab-scale quantities (mg/day) of large AQCs (10-30 atoms), tuned to the visible part of the solar spectrum by month 12 (TRL4) and pilot-scale quantities (1g/day) by month 24 (TRL5). 
  3. To model the evolution of the AQC’s electronic structure with size in realistic conditions using density functional theory and classical molecular dynamics to optimise: Quantum properties, band energy gaps, charge density distributions, energetics of AQC formation and kinetics of products at the surface of the AQCs. 
  4. To assess the photocatalytic performance of the candidate AQC materials for the production of hydrogen with the following performance targets: Photocatalytic efficiency of at least 10%; Stability of at least 720 h (<10% loss of efficiency after 720h) and Hydrogen production rate of at least 1milimol/h on lab-scale and 1litre/day on demo-scale. 
  5. To improve the production of the transport fuels as ethanol and butanol from CO2 and H2 by acetogenic microorganisms by applying CRISPR-cas genome editing techniques. 
  6. To develop the electro-biocatalytic process for conversion of CO2 into alcohols using gas diffusion electrodes and enriched homoacetogenic mixed cultures (based on (i) Sporomusa ovata, (ii) Clostridium Ljungdahli and (iii) Shewanella Oneidensis. 
  7. To demonstrate the BAC-TO-FUEL process at TRL5 using renewable hydrogen and conversion of CO2 into biofuels (ethanol/butanol) at a combined efficiency of at least 10% efficient and targeting up to 15% with output rates of up to 20g/litre/day for ethanol and up to 15g/litre/day for butanol opening up a potential future cost pathway of <€1/kg using renewable energy as power source. 
  8. To conduct a life-cycle and techno-economic assessment that validates the BAC-TO-FUEL Set up demonstrating the expected impacts of the technology development in line with the call text. 
  9. To define the business plan and road-map for the technology and consortium to materialise arising commercial opportunities. 
  10. To conduct IP landscape analysis to ensure freedom to operate using network patent analysis. 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under Grant Agreement No. 825999