What are the main goals of SUNRISE?

SUNRISE has three main goals that will be further defined in a Scientific and Technological (S&T) roadmap at the end of the Coordination and Support Action (CSA):

(1) the provision of sustainable fuels from renewable energy (solar fuels);

(2) the synthesis of commodity chemicals from renewable energy (solar chemicals);

(3) the development of efficient methods to recycle CO2 from the atmosphere.

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Coordination and Support Action. The Sunrise CSA is a collaborative project under Horizon 2020 (the European Framework Programme) that gathers several European institutions to coordinate, support and analyse strategic research actions.

Unlike other Collaborative Projects, CSAs do not finance research and development.

SUNRISE has been selected to provide a roadmap and an implementation strategy for the next European large scale research initiative in the field of artificial photosynthesis.

What is ‘circular economy’?

Circular economy is an ambitious and sustainable economic model aimed at minimising waste and making the most out of resources. It focuses on  design and systems thinking, product life extension, recycling, and upcycling.

Circular economy keeps materials and resources in the economic cycle through the separation and recovery of components at the end of a product’s life and their use in new applications, reducing waste generation.

In 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Action Plan and has just published a report for accelerating the transition to the circular economy.

How will SUNRISE contribute to a circular economy?

SUNRISE aims at using carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial waste gases as a starting material to produce solar fuels and chemicals (from waste to product).

For instance, industrial CO2 emissions could be captured and transformed into a fuel or an added-value new product reducing the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This approach will create a closed carbon cycle, providing huge benefits for society, the environment, the European economy, and the ongoing efforts to mitigate climate change.

What are solar fuels?

Solar fuels are synthetic chemical fuels generated directly from sunlight. The solar energy is harvested and converted to chemical energy, which can be stored and transported for later use. Water is the raw material of choice for this process, in which sunlight is used to split water (H2O) into its components: hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen would be an example of a solar fuel. Besides, the hydrogen (or protons) produced in water splitting can react with carbon dioxide (CO2) to generate carbon-based solar fuels, such as synthesis gas (mixture of hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO)), alcohols (methanol, ethanol, etc.) or methane (CH4).

What are the advantages of using solar fuels instead of fossil fuels?

Solar fuels use the sun: a free, widely available and infinite source of energy. Solar fuels are produced through sustainable processes and when used they do not contaminate, as they only produce water and CO2 that can be recycled in the so-called carbon closed cycle.

How will SUNRISE tackle the problem of energy storage?

SUNRISE wants to establish and coordinate large-scale research cooperation across Europe to enable, in the long term, the production of renewable fuels and chemicals from water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen and sunlight, as the sole energy source, at industrial scale. The solar energy will be stored in chemical bonds and released at will when needed.