Project dates: 01. May 2021 - 30. Apr 2023
Achieving climate neutrality by 2050 is currently acknowledged as one the overarching objectives of the EU strategy, where smart sector integration and a just transition to a circular economy are crucial drivers. In this respect, PHOENIX aims to develop and deliver a disruptive electrochemical reactor combining hydrogen production and plastic waste recycling. Hydrogen has manifold applications i.e., fuel, energy vector and chemical feedstock, and polymer synthesis is prevalent, 260 Mtons synthesised just in 2019 and no drastic reduction in near-term projections. Clearly, a suitable portfolio of novel and scalable technologies is urgently needed to process both commodities (hydrogen & plastics) in a sustainable way. Whence, ramping up the production of green hydrogen, i.e., renewables-derived, perfectly intertwines with the need to boost the whole volume of recycled plastic which currently amounts to only 15% of the total plastic in circulation. To this end, PHOENIX will produce an integrated power-to-molecules device by interfacing a fuel-producing/waste-recycling system to photovoltaic modules. The envisioned system will leverage an exquisite control in the assembly of modular Anion-Exchange Membrane (AEM) electrolysers, processing of nanostructured electrocatalysts and development of value-added chemical reactions to produce a scalable solar-to-chemical reactor. Finally, field validation and techno-economic assessments will identify and potentiate sector coupling along the entire energy and chemistry value chains. This project will be accomplished by an innovation-oriented small-sized enterprise, a world-class academic group and an experienced researcher, embedded in an inter-sectorial research landscape that brings lab innovation to fab delivery. Overall, the PHOENIX approach responds to key societal goals in energy conversion and environmental reparation: hydrogen production, waste valorisation and industrial innovation.