News Release

EU invests €3.5M in a project to convert carbon and nitrogen emissions into valuable resources

With a duration of three years, the EU-funded SUPERVAL project is set to commence on 1st November 2023.

Grant and Award Announcement

Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ)

Map of SUPERVAL Consortium Partners

image: Map of SUPERVAL Consortium Partners view more 

Credit: ICIQ

The European Union has allocated €3.5 million in funding the SUPERVAL project (SUstainable Photo-ElectRochemical VALorization of flue gases) under the EIC Pathfinder Challenges 2022 call, an ambitious initiative aimed at converting, in a sustainable way, carbon and nitrogen emissions into valuable resources. This three-year project, scheduled to start on the 1st of November 2023, brings together a consortium of eight organizations from Italy, Spain, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark.

Limiting post-combustion emissions is one of the most urgent actions for environmental remediation. However, capture technologies face multiple challenges mostly due to the low concentration of pollutants, such as carbon dioxide (CO₂) or nitrogen oxides (NOₓ), making them highly inefficient. Additionally, even if successful, there are very few plausible uses for the captured pollutants, apart from long-term geological storage.

In the pursuit of a more sustainable future, SUPERVAL’s primary objective is to address these challenges simultaneously, investigating the viability of a technology capable of transforming the treatment of post-combustion gases to unlock the potential of carbon and nitrogen components by separating and transforming them into valuable resources.

This is not the first project that the EU funds in that direction. SUPERVAL builds on the A-LEAF project, which is featured as a success story on the European Commission website.The A-LEAF project achieved the direct use of sunlight to transform waste carbon dioxide (CO₂) into valuable chemical fuels using a clean, fast and cost-effective solution from low-cost, non-critical raw materials and processes.

The SUPERVAL technology will optimize and expand this strategy to the capture of the contaminants (CO₂ and NOₓ) from flue gas to convert them into added-value commodities for the chemical industry using exclusively renewable power sources from photovoltaics. All implemented in a single, autonomous installation, to be validated in an industrial environment.

Like the previous A-LEAF project, SUPERVAL will be coordinated by the research institution Institut Catala d'Investigacio Química (ICIQ-CERCA) and will bring together a consortium of diverse organizations contributing their unique expertise and resources. The participating partners include: Orchestra Scientific. Universitat Politècnica de València – UPV, Consorzio Interuniversitario Nazionale per la Scienza e Tecnologia dei Materiali - INSTM UdR Messina, CASPE Laboratory. Forschungszentrum Julich (who was also a consortium partner in the A-LEAF project), Technische Universiteit Eindhoven - TU/e. Vareser 96 and 2.-O LCA Consultants Aps.

JR Galán-Mascarós, the project coordinator and group leader at ICIQ, stated: “The SUPERVAL project holds immense potential to demonstrate a viable treatment of post-combustion emissions and contribute to our journey towards sustainability. The technology's process involves the solar-driven electrochemical conversion of captured CO₂ into an organic, energy-rich molecule (formate), using water as a source of electrons and protons. Additionally, the NOₓ, in combination with N₂, will be transformed into ammonia through a photocatalytic process, utilizing electrolytic green hydrogen. This comprehensive approach enables the capture and valorization of carbon and nitrogen components found in post-combustion emissions, reducing pollutants while generating valuable chemicals.”

To ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the SUPERVAL project, techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment studies will be conducted. These studies will contribute to refining the performance and components of the technology, solidifying its position as a crucial advancement in achieving zero net emissions.

Stefano Giancola, R&D manager of Orchestra Scientific and leader of the gas separation work package, shared his excitement, adding: "Collaborating on the SUPERVAL project is a really inspiring experience. As a company specialized in CO₂ capture, we look forward to contribute with our expertise to the impactful outcomes that this innovative technology will deliver."

Representing the international partnership, Tsvetelina Merdzhanova, group leader at IEK-5 Photovoltaics, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, remarked, "We are proud to be part of the SUPERVAL project as photovoltaic experts, and through our collective efforts, we aim to achieve a significant breakthrough in carbon and nitrogen management."

The SUstainable Photo-ElectRochemical VALorization of flue gases – SUPERVAL project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020, Grant Agreement No. 101115456

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