Project summary

The Eco2CO2 project aims at exploiting a photo-electro-chemical (PEC) CO2 conversion route for the synthesis of methanol as a key intermediate for the production of fine chemicals (fragrances, flavourings, adhesives, monomers ,.. ) in a lignocellulosic biorefinery.
A distinct improvement in the ecological footprint of the envisaged chemical industries will thus be achieved by:
  1. boosting the potential of lignocellulosic biorefineries by exploiting secondary by-products such as furfurals or lignin;
  2. providing a small but non-negligible contribution to the reduction of CO2 release into the atmosphere by exploitation of sunlight as an energy source.
The most crucial development in the project will be the development of a PEC reactor capable of converting CO2 into methanol by exploiting water and sun light with a targeted conversion efficiency exceeding 6%, with reference to wavelengths above 400 nm, and an expected durability of 10.000 h. The above specifications must be reached without using expensive noble metals or precious materials which should enable costs of the PEC panels lower than 60 Euro/m2 including the installation. Catalytic reactions of methanol and furfural to produce perfuming agents via partial oxidation or methylation, as well as of lignin or lignin depolymerisation derivatives to produce adhesives or monomers (e.g. p-xylene) will undergo a R&D programme to achieve cost effective production of green fine chemicals, proven by the end of the project via lab bench tests of at least 100 g/h production rates. Based on early calculations, if successful, the Eco2CO2 technologies should be capable of inducing avoided CO2 emissions by the year 2020 as high as 50 Mtons/year worldwide.