The overall objective of Photofuel is to develop an innovative technology for the biocatalytic production of a solar fuel and to assess the impacts of this novel approach on fuel composition, engine performance but also on humans and the environment. The approach of this new technology is to directly produce alcanes and alcohols by microorganisms. To achieve this, phototrophic algae or cyanobacterial microorganisms are enabled to convert solar energy, water and CO2 into a drop-in fuel. This instant production of an engine-ready fuel improves the energy efficiency of several steps along the production chain.
The activities are carried out as part of a joint industrial and academic consortium that encompasses an interdisciplinary team of all central and highly diverse areas of engineering (biology, chemistry, engines development, etc.) and social sciences. Therefore, the project is subdivided into seven work packages (see project scheme).
Ecological and economic impacts of the Photofuel technology will be analyzed and potential risks on society will be identified and assessed, led by ITAS (work package 6). One main objective is the elaboration of prospective LCA studies abstracting the Photofuel process in comparison to existing technologies of fuel production from fossil as well as biogenic resources. Another focus is on the sociological analyses of the perceptions for chances and challenges of the Photofuel technology. These analyses are carried out through stakeholder workshops with participatory methods. In the context of work package 6, the studies will be conducted in cooperation with IFPEN, VW and Volvo.
Website of the project: www.photofuel.eu