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UA participates in a European project to replace fossil fuels with renewable and sustainable alternatives

eForFuel provides a novel solution based on using resources that are essentially unlimited and not dependent on land use: CO2, electricity and water




Alicante. 4 June 2018

University of Alicante is taking part in eForFuel, an exciting EU-funded research and innovation initiative that seeks to provide a sustainable replacement of fossil fuels by using electricity and microorganisms to convert CO2 into renewable fuels.

The project is led and coordinated by scientists at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Molecular Plant Physiology in Germany and boasts the participation of 14 industrial and academic partners from 9 European and associated countries. eForFuel is a truly interdisciplinary project aiming to achieve its research targets of offering sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.

Greenhouse gases, especially CO2, emitted from the burning of fossil fuels are significant drivers of climate change and a global threat to society and the environment. Hence, it is very important to replace fossil fuels with alternative, sustainable sources. Early generation 'biofuels' compete with land resources, limit agricultural production of food, and, therefore, cannot completely replace fossil fuels without severely undermining food security and decreasing biodiversity. In order to overcome this problem, eForFuel provides a novel solution to utilize resources that are essentially unlimited and that are independent of land use: CO2, electricity and water.

"What makes eForFuel unique is the sustainable production chain that converts CO2 emissions and renewable electricity into easy to handle formic acid, which is then fed to engineered microbes for the production of renewable hydrocarbon fuels", says project coordinator Arren Bar-Even from MPI.

eForFuel aims to establish and demonstrate a unique integrated electro-bioreactor, which automatically integrates CO2  electro-reduction, formate production and formate bioconversion to hydrocarbons that can serve as "drop in" fuels. This integrated system will serve as a stepping-stone towards a transforming the way we produce fuels and carbon-based chemicals.

Researchers at the University of Alicante from Spain will provide a key contribution to eForFuel by conducting research on the development of new electrocatalysts, in collaboration with other project partners and, specially, of new carbon materials that will constitute the cathode, aiming for a high efficiency and selectivity towards formic acid.

"We will develop the carbon materials that will constitute the cathode of the catalytic cell, where CO2 will be transformed into formic acid", explains Antonio Sepúlveda from the Laboratory for Advanced Materials in University of Alicante, leading scientist in the project.

eForFuel is a Horizon 2020 EU project launched in March 2018 and scheduled to run for the next four years with funding of around 4 million Euros.


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