OBJECTIVES OF THE FUNDING PROGRAMME
The challenge is to build a fully functional, bench-scale prototype of an artificial photosynthesis based system which is able to produce a useable synthetic fuel. Artificial photosynthesis is widely considered to be among the most promising new technologies to deliver sustainable alternatives to current fuel supplies. Due to its ability to use a combination of sunlight, water and carbon from the air to produce energy, artificial photosynthesis is regarded as a potential breakthrough energy technology. It can be used to produce hydrogen or carbon-based fuels – collectively referred to as “solar fuels” – which offer an efficient and transportable means of storage of solar energy. Solar energy, in turn, can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels and as a feedstock for a wide range of industrial processes.
The device to be built needs to integrate the whole process from light capture to fuel production and be capable of powering a small engine. The production of fuel in the form of hydrogen and the use of conventional photovoltaic cells for the light harvesting process or to collect light and electrolysers are not permitted.