Launch of the EU project "SUNGATE" - A new technology platform for the sustainable production of solar fuel using artificial photosynthesis

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In October 2023, the EU project "SUNGATE" was launched under the coordination of Fraunhofer IME in collaboration with 11 partners from industry and research. The aim of the project is to develop a novel, sustainable and cost-efficient biohybrid technology based on artificial photosynthesis that will enable the highly efficient and scalable production of solar fuel.

Facing the energy transition and climate change, solar fuel represents a sustainable solution for an environmentally friendly energy supply – whether in mobility, private households or in industrial sectors with high CO2 emissions. Artificial photosynthesis is a promising approach to producing solar fuel; however, current systems are inefficient and unsuitable for use in industry due to their high costs. The EU project SUNGATE aims to counteract these limitations by combining the fundamentals of artificial photosynthesis with photoelectrocatalysis, flow microreactor technology and biotechnology. The overarching goal of SUNGATE is to provide a technology that can guarantee a cost-efficient global energy supply and contribute to climate neutrality by 2050.

The unique modular and scalable SUNGATE technology enables flexible, defossilized production of solar fuel for a wide range of applications. This will pave the way for a unique, modular technology system that, unlike established photoelectrochemical systems, does not use toxic or critical raw materials. SUNGATE uses sunlight as the sole energy source, while water and CO2 serve as inexhaustible raw materials, which are then converted into solar fuels such as methanol or formate.

The interdisciplinary project consortium consists of 12 industrial and research partners from six EU countries and Turkey. With a total budget of around 4.9 million euros, the SUNGATE project is being funded by the EU's Horizon Europe program until 30 September 2027.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (ISC) is working with its particle technology group within the SUNGATE project, primarily on electrode construction for new anodic half cells. The aim here is to provide particle-based electrode layers from a combination of different catalysts for water oxidation and to apply these in microreactor structures.

Another focus is the development of biodegradable, non-toxic hydrogels for embedding the photocatalytically active, (bio)hybrid components of the cathodic half-cell. In addition, the Fraunhofer ISC and its Center for Applied Analytics are contributing comprehensive analytical expertise to test and validate the new developments. Special methods for the preparation and analysis process are also being developed for this purpose.

Project information

Project coordinator

Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, Germany 


Project partners

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Microtechnology and Microsystems IMM, Germany
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC, Germany
  • University of Warsaw, Poland
  • Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia, Spain
  • University of Stuttgart Stuttgart, Germany
  • University of Ulm, Germany
  • University of Ghent, Belgium
  • Tarsus University, Turkey
  • 2.-0 LCA consultants, Denmark
  • Danish Board of Technology, Denmark
  • Chemtrix BV, Netherlands

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