PRODIGY – Process development in gas-solid photocatalytic CO2 reduction

  • Project team:

    Patyk, Andreas (Project leader); Lukas Lazar

  • Funding:

    Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners:

    Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, Rostock (co-ordination); Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg; Technische Universität Berlin; Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

  • Research group:

    Research for Sustainable Energy Technologies

Project description

CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels by humans are the main cause of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect. Without a drastic reduction in CO2 emissions, living conditions on earth will change dramatically. On the other hand, fossil fuels, especially oil and natural gas, are important “convenient” precursors for fuels and a number of chemical products that are essential foundations of our way of life. Their availability is finite, even though not in the short term. An energetically and materially efficient, low-cost process for CO2 recycling could contribute to reducing CO2 emissions and the consumption of fossil resources. Achieving these effects requires energy and possibly necessary material inputs stemming from renewable sources. A promising approach is the photocatalytic conversion of CO2 into energy carriers or basic chemicals.

The aim of the overall project is to increase the yields and reaction rates of the main processes to create an interest for industrial application. To achieve economic profitability even at low reaction rates, the work focuses on products of higher value, such as lower alcohols, aldehydes, or carboxylic acids. Moreover, by adding additional reaction partners, e.g. methane, the production of synthesis gas (CO + H2) will be investigated. The work aims to avoid critical raw materials and to lower the environmental impacts of the developed processes. Three innovative approaches will be pursued to achieve these goals:

  1. By strategic design, nanomaterials will be synthesized that convert as much sunlight as possible to avoid limiting the overall efficiency of the entire process in the very first process step. Furthermore, the ability of the materials to bind carbon dioxide will be optimized.
  2. Through optimization of the reaction technology, the so far high reaction temperatures for the utilization of CO2 as raw material will be lowered.
  3. The continuous Life Cycle Assessment of environmental impacts and costs integrated into the R&D process will allow to analyze, evaluate and optimize the ecological and economic sustainability of the processes developed in PRODIGY.

In the ITAS subproject, we aim to provide the project partners with the system analytical information necessary to optimize the efficiency and sustainability of the new processes. Therefore, environmental impacts and costs will be investigated using life cycle analysis methods under the following aspects:

  1. Optimization of the PRODIGY processes as such by integrating them into chemical production systems and energy systems.
  2. Ranking of the PRODIGY processes in comparison with competing product systems.

The life cycle analyses also consider those processes that are not direct subjects of the R&D work in PRODIGY, but are unavoidably parts of the overall system to produce the desired products (construction of apparatuses, production of materials, production of additives, etc.). This should ensure that no weak points in upstream and downstream processes remain hidden or are possibly even caused by optimizations in the main process (e.g., functionally optimal new material with increased environmental burden from its production).

The analyses are conducted as R&D support in close cooperation with the technical partners. Thus, sustainability information can be used already in early phases of the R&D work and, if required, necessary changes of the research direction can be carried out with minimized effort.


Dr. Andreas Patyk
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-24606