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Germany: Renewable Fuels

Fuels from CO2 and Electricity

| Editor: Alexander Stark

e For Fuel: Fuels from CO2 and electricity
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e For Fuel: Fuels from CO2 and electricity (Source: Biofaction)

The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (ifeu) is taking part in the e-For-Fuel research and innovation action. The project wants to provide a sustainable replacement of fossil fuels by using electricity and microorganisms to convert CO2 into renewable fuels.

Berlin/Germany — 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 an 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, e-For-Fuel was established. It provides a novel solution to utilize resources that are essentially unlimited and that are independent of land use: CO2, electricity and water.

e-For-Fuel is an EU-funded research and innovation action that seeks to provide a sustainable replacement of fossil fuels by using electricity and microorganisms to convert CO2 into renewable fuels. The action is a Horizon 2020 EU project launched in March 2018 and scheduled to run for the next four years with funding of around $ 4.7 million. The project is led and coordinated by scientists at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Molecular Plant Physiology in Germany and comprises 14 industrial and academic partners from 9 European and associated countries. The research action is an interdisciplinary project aiming to achieve its research targets of offering sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.

What makes this project unique is its 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.

The project participants aim 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 transforming the way we produce fuels and carbon-based chemicals.

Ifeu will support the process developers by continuously providing them with insights gained from life cycle assessment (LCA), explains Nils Rettenmaier from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (ifeu), leading scientist in the project. In collaboration with other project partners, the impacts of e-For-Fuel products on the main pillars of sustainability will be assessed.

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