Horizon Europe EIC Pathfinder Challenges 2021 - Water and wastewater for Hydrogen production
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Deadline: Oct 22, 2021
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Summary

A team of two university departments from North Italy wants to propose an easily scalable photocatalytic process for an advanced oxidation waste treatment capable of co-generating H2 (Hydrogen) while increasing the biodegradability index for correct wastewater disposal. The two departments are preparing an EIC Pathfinder Challenges 2021 proposal and are looking for an SME (end user or co-developer) outside Italy with experience in the energy and wastewater treatment sectors.

Description

A team of two university departments from North Italy is interested in presenting a project proposal under the call EIC Pathfinder Challenges 2021.
The photoreforming of organic molecules is a growingly interesting technology to fasten hydrogen production while mineralising organic pollutants in water. It consists in photocatalytic water splitting assisted by organic molecules, which act as hole scavengers, being oxidized in place of water. They prompt the electron-hole separation under illumination, consuming the holes faster and thus indirectly improving the hydrogen evolution reaction.
The team previous works in this compound have shown the possibility to deal the treatment of different types of wastewater: in particular, for emerging pollutants and for paper mill waste. To date, only early pre-commercial technologies for the removal of emerging contaminants are available, with no consolidate knowledge due to a) the very recent attention paid to these pollutants, b) their wide variety and c) their very low concentration, which rules out some of the possible technological options. In this context, photocatalitic processes have raised increasing interest recently. The photoreforming of organic was studied using glucose as model molecule for carbohydrate-containing wastewaters, using catalytic materials. The use of glucose is demonstrated for this application and perfectly fits the logic of valorisation of the pulp industry residues, accomplishing both the functions of advanced oxidation treatment and strong waste valorization, producing H2 in a circular way.
Currently TiO2 (Anatase Titanium Dioxide) based photocatalysts are the most widely reported for this application. In accordance with recent EU guidelines and to optimize environmental sustainability, titanium must be replaced by more available and environmentally friendly metals. Good candidates may be other semiconductors based, for instance, on zinc or copper oxides able to absorb the adequate quota of solar energy. Features can be improved through the addition of co-catalysts, either metals or oxides with lower band gap.
Finally the design and development of reactors requires special attention because must take into account also the control of parameters fundamental and necessary to favor the development at an industrial level. The scale-up of photochemical or photo-catalytic processes is a hard task, requiring, among others, the correct definition of light distribution across the device. A collection of examples of different photoreactor layouts adopted for water treatment, the main modelling issues must be taken into account.
So, the project idea is to propose an easily scalable photocatalytic process for an advanced oxidation waste treatment capable of co-generating H2 while increasing the biodegradability index (BOD5-biological Oxygen Demand and COD-Chemical Oxygen Demand) for correct wastewater disposal. The two departments are preparing an EIC Pathfinder Challenges 2021 proposal (deadline 27/10/2021) and are looking for an SME outside Italy with experience in the energy and wastewater treatment sectors. The SME could be involved either as an end user or as a potential codeveloper. The deadline for expressions of interest is the 22nd of October.

Advantages & innovations

- new photocatalysts based on new environmentally friendly metals - new reactors - "two pigeons with one stone": production of H2 and wastewater degradation

Stage of development

Proposal under development

Partner sought

The two departments are looking for an SME outside Italy interested in being part of a consortium to apply to Horizon Europe EIC Pathfinder Challenges 2021 call about H2 production (or in general solar fuels) through solar energy and photoreforming of organic molecules. The SME can be active either in the energy sector (e.g production of green H2) or in the wastewater treatment sector and could be involved as an end user or as a potential codeveloper if interested: - in H2 green production or in designing new reactors; - in wastewater treatment with new innovative materials allowing H2 production too;

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