To reduce dependency on fossil fuels and to contribute to growing efforts to decarbonise the transport sector, biofuels provide a way to shift to low-carbon, non-petroleum fuels, with minimal changes to vehicle stock and distribution infrastructure.
Whilst improving vehicle efficiency is a key cost-effective way of reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector, biofuels will play a significant role in replacing liquid fossil fuels (particularly for those modes of transport which cannot be electrified).
Production and use of biofuels can provide benefits such as increased energy security, reducing dependency on oil imports and reducing oil price volatility. Also, Biofuels can also support economic development through creating new sources of income.
Conventional and advanced bioethanol and biodiesel consumption is expected to rise across the European Union, driven by the increase in incorporation rates planned by each Member State.
Transport biofuel consumption needs to triple by 2030 (to 280 Mtoe) to be on track with the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS). This equates to 10% of global transport fuel demand, compared with the current level of around 3%.
BAC-TO-FUEL overcomes the key concerns about the production of biofuels, particularly first generation, which are related to food security and food prices. Using food crops for biofuels results in less food for human consumption and feedstock production displacing land previously used for the cultivation of food crops. This has led to the European Parliament and Council approving legislation (iLUC Directive) which limits the way Member states can meet the target of 10% for renewables in transport fuels by 2020 – a cap of 7% on the RED recognisable contribution of biofuels produced from conventional crops, and a greater weight on the production of advanced biofuels from a list of eligible feedstocks.
BAC-TO-FUEL will respond to the global challenge of finding new sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels by developing, integrating and validating a disruptive prototype system at TRL5 which is able to transform CO2/H2 into added-value products in a sustainable and cost-effective way which:
- mimics the photosynthetic process of plants using novel inorganic photocatalysts which are capable of producing hydrogen in a renewable way from photocatalytic splitting of water in the presence of sunlight
- uses enhanced bacterial media to convert CO2 and the renewable hydrogen into biofuels (i.e. ethanol and butanol both important fuels for transport) using a novel electro-biocatalytic cell which can handle fluctuations in hydrogen and power supply lending itself to coupling to renewable energy technologies
BAC-TO-FUEL is a multidisciplinary project which brings together leaders in the fields of materials chemistry, computational chemistry, chemical engineering, microbiology and bacterial engineering.