A Catalan (Spanish) nanoscience and nanotechnology research center has developed an innovative method to enhance direct CO2 air capture and its mineralization onto certain solid surfaces using light. It’s application on roads and buildings is a way to mitigate human climate impacts. In addition, implementation in photovoltaic (PV) solar cells allows combining solar energy generation and chemical CO2 binding at once. Partners interested in research collaboration or license agreements are sought.
The Catalan (Spanish) research centre is a non-profit global leader organization, focused on the newly-discovered physical and chemical properties that arise from the behaviour of matter at the nanoscale. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment has shown an important role for CO2 negative emissions technologies (NETs), which are aimed at permanently removing the greenhouse CO2 from the earth's atmosphere, in limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (°C) even to 1.5 °C cost-effectively. In the second half of the 21st century, NETs are often envisaged to remove between 10–20 gigatonnes of CO2 per year (GtCO2/yr). There is considerable scepticism that such upscaling is possible with currently available NETs because of their limiting requirements in space and water, together with biodiversity and food security risks associated to their use. Current NETs are either expensive, such as Direct Air Capture (DAC) plants, or they suffer from other problems such as threatening global food security, water and space requirements (e.g. afforestation or bioengineering). Although even uncertainties and challenges in this field of technology do exist, the need to reach a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 does not leave much time for long-term research; improvements on current DAC prototypes will be essential for their up-scaling consideration. The research centre has developed a nanostructured engineered oxides (e.g perovskites), which implemented in urban surfaces and photovoltaic solar cells are able to use light energy to enhance the atmospheric CO2 capture (DAC) and mineralization from ~5 mg/g to ~50 mg/g (or ~1mmol/g) (room temperature, irradiance of ~160 Wm-2 (1W LED) for 24h). By a photorefractive phenomenon, additional CO2 trapping centres are created in the nanostructured material. In relation to its application on solar cells the technology might be seen as an “artificial inorganic photosynthesis”, thus combining photosynthesis and chemical binding using the light energy to enhance the CO2 capture and its mineralization on the cell surface. This enhancement by light is an important differentiation element from other DAC available technologies in the market. Another important fact of the technology applied to photovoltaics is that the real-state space required would be already allocated for solar energy obtaining in solar plants, which represents ~5% of the land of Spain in total. No significant additional energy, land or water resources would be required for its implementation. The solution is able to promote sustainable urban surfaces, reducing the critical impact of roads on the environment, by implementing the technology in asphalt and concrete mixtures for road surfaces making eco-friendlier and environmentally-benign streets. The same applies when implemented on building materials. The technology could be implemented in solar farms to make these wide spaces more productive (e.g. during the night). In addition, such functional materials may be regenerated and made of waste materials, therefore creating new paths for the CO2 circular economy. The research centre is looking for companies in the construction and photovoltaic sectors, interested in leading proof of concept studies to validate the technology for specific applications under a research collaboration agreement or willing to bring the technology onto the market under a license agreement.
Type (e.g. company, R&D institution…), field of industry and Role of Partner Sought:
The research centre is looking for companies from the DAC, construction, photovoltaics and CO2 utilization sectors interested in either licensing the patent to implement the technology in their sectors, or leading proof of concept studies to validate the technology in relevant environmental conditions under research cooperation agreement.
Stage of Development:
Under development/lab tested
Comments Regarding Stage of Development:
Regarding buildings and roads, the technology’s CO2 capture capacity has been tested in the lab, with square millimetre (mm2) samples sizes, under both controlled CO2 rich-conditions and capturing CO2 directly from the air at room temperature. The formulation is based on earth-abundant materials (cheap and eco-friendly), also compatible with building materials such as portland cement, concrete, glass or asphalts. A route for implementing on larger ~m2 (and even ~km2) is being developed. Regarding photovoltaics, formulation is compatible with transparency requirements, although not tested yet.
Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted
Comments Regarding IPR Status:
PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) patent filed on the 30th December 2020.