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Scope of the project

The aim of the METAMORPH project is to deliver novel materials for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture and utilization (CCU). Currently available CCU solutions are very limited due to their inefficiency arising from the limited interactions of CO2 and photocatalyst. The key innovation of the project is the development of a more efficient CCU process by combination of CO2 sorption materials with advanced photochemical catalysers in single nanofiber membranes with extremely high surface to volume ratio. The nanofibrous membranes developed at InoCure and UJEP will be combined with unique PANi-based CO2 sorption materials developed at UCT and TiO2-based photocatalytic nanoparticles developed at SINTEF (see Figure 1). The membranes will then be formed into rapidly deployable photoreactors that will be tested in a simulated industrial environment. The proposal combines expertise of groups working on: organic chemistry related to sorption and photoreactions of CO2, high-throughput electrospinning, nanoparticles (NPs) and photochemical reactors. The project activities will span from research and development, to scale up and to pilot production.

Figure 1: Concept of the METAMORPH project: development of advanced hybrid materials for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and utilization (CCU).

Objectives of project

The project addresses one of the challenges of the 21st century – capturing CO2 (CCS) and converting CO2 into organic molecules (CCU). CO2 is the major greenhouse gas and reducing the concentration of it in the atmosphere is essential for survival and sustainable living of humans on Earth. Direct emission of CO2 from the Industrial processes and equipment account for more than 22% of all global CO2 emissions. The METAMORPH project will target this anthropogenic production of CO2. We propose a system for direct photocatalytic conversion of CO2 and H2O to fuels and/or chemicals at the industrial site, before it reaches the atmosphere. The produced carbohydrates (ethanol/methanol) can then be reused at the site or transported elsewhere for use in the fuel and other chemical industries.

The current efforts to reduce the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere are focused on carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS is expected to handle about 13 Mt CO2/year, and given the annual emissions in the order of 30 Gt CO2/year is not a sufficient solution to achieve carbon neutrality. Moreover, safety of storage sites has to be ensured for thousands of years that requires technological and economical investment. As an alternative, CCU approach can be employed that utilizes captured CO2 conversion to chemicals/fuels. However european zero emission platform (ZEP) analysis suggests that CCU can only address a small proportion of the emissions with main technological barrier being an efficiency of the CCU materials (carbon footprint of the CCU materials themselves may be higher than CO2 reduced) and economic (the cost of the synthesized products is several times higher). The METAMORPH will combine the state-of-the-art materials to further improve the CCS capacity and achieve the commercially viable CCU solution.

In the first stage of the project a CCS material with superior sorption capacity will be developed. The sorption reactor will be based on carbonized polyaniline (PANi) material in different morphologies: nanofibers, bulk material, microparticles. Such materials were developed by UCT and demonstrated CO2 sorption ability on the order of 9.14 mmol/g, which is the highest capacity achieved for carbon based materials. Then, these CCS materials will be combined with photocatalysts, for CO2 conversion to carbohydrates that can be reused as an industrial raw material. The key limitation of currently available carbon capture and utilization (CCU) materials is their low efficacy in real industrial settings. That is mainly caused by low CO2 concentration reaching the active sites of the photoreactor. During the METAMORPH project, the CO2 absorbing materials (especially polyaniline nanoparticles) will be combined with the photocatalytic systems. That will overcome this problem by locally increasing the CO2 concentration and its availability for photocatalysis. Finally, the combination of these hybrid absorbing/catalytic nanoparticles will be combined with the nanofibrous membranes to further increase the surface area available for the adsorption and providing mechanical support. The use of nanofibrous membranes will also increase the processability of the CCU systems and the ability to incorporate them into the deployable photocatalysts. During the project a new reactor for pilot-scale CO2 capture and photocatalytic conversion into organic molecules and high-value products will be developed. The project will deliver an environmental impact by reducing CO2 emissions (CCS and CCU) and economic impact by production of useful organic molecules (CCU). The CCS and CCU options that will be enabled by METAMORPH are summarized in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Carbon Capture and Utilization Options that will be enabled by METAMORPH membranes.

Specific Objectives

  • Development of novel form of carbonized PANi for CO2 sorption (CCS) and comparison with bulk and microparticle forms.
  • Development of hybrid carbonized PANi/photocatalytic nanoparticles for CO2 capture and utilization (CCU) with external quantum efficiency of 5%, high turnover numbers (TONs) and stability.
  • Combination of novel carbonized PANi/photocatalytic with nanofibers and their comparison with bulk/microparticle form of active materials.
  • Integration of carbonized PANi and/or photocatalysts with nanofibers using electrospinning technologies (>40% loading), sonocoating (>90% coverage) and spray coating (>80% coverage). The polymeric component will be selected to meet balance between functionalization by photocatalyst, high-throughput production, mechanical stability and low price (under 1 EUR/m2 for polymer without catalyst).
  • Up-scaling of electrospinning process using needleless electrospinning (production of 10 m2/h in device with less and membrane production cost of max. 20 EUR/m2).
  • Development and validation of CO2 capture reactors and CCS utilization scheme.
  • Development and validation of photochemical reactors for CO2 capture from air for continuous methanol production (>500 operation and less than 5% loss for 500 h).
  • Development and validation of photochemical reactors adapted for CO2 capture from industrial processes (>500 operations and less than 5% loss for 500 h).
  • Improved efficiency of overall system with sunlight-to-energy conversion over 10%.

The metaMORPH project benefits from a €2.26 mil. grant from Norway and the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic. The project is carried out under the KAPPA funding program for applied research, experimental development, and innovation, managed by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic.