Sustainability is an overarching goal of the EU long-term vision and of H2020 programs, and it is also enshrined in CICECO mission. Thus, sustainability is a driving force for all CICECO groups, even if it is the core business of G4. It comprises research on more efficient green materials, processes and products, energy harvesting, alternative/clean fuels, development of the Biorefinery concept for the use of biomass (from agroforest and maritime origin) as the source of chemicals materials fuels and energy, and closing the loops in materials/compounds reuse and waste valorization on the Circular Economy. Sustainability challenges are central to several large ongoing projects addressing scientific challenges (e.g., AgroForWealth, MultiBiorefinery) and industry needs (e.g., Bosch and InPacTus projects). Key examples of sustainability focused activities comprise:
BIOREFINERY AND CIRCULAR ECONOMY
- New biomass (agro-forest, algal and fisheries) fractionation and processing approaches using benign solvents and processes;
- Evaluation of the interaction mechanisms of solvents with lignocellulosic materials;
- Biobased functional polymeric and composite (nano)materials;
- New approaches to prepare functional (nano)fibers based composite materials (e.g., using benign solvents, 3D Printing and microfluidics);
- New catalysts for the cascade conversion of biobased platform chemicals;
- Integration of developed technologies into unified MultiBiorefinery allowing the processing of a broad range of biomass raw materials and yielding a large portfolio of products.
- Recovery of active principles from disposed pharmaceutical formulations;
- New urban mining technologies for the recovery and recycling of noble metals and rare earths from ewastes;
- New methods to produce biomorphic and biomimetic ceramics from inorganic industrial wastes;
- Assessment of the toxicity and environmental impact of the novel materials and solvents developed or used in the processes being studied.
MATERIALS FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY PRODUCTION
- Eletroceramics for energy harvesting;
- Materials for (biobased) fuel cells, solar cells, capacitors, heat/cold storage and thermoelectric conversion;
- Magnetocaloric materials and thermal processes for more efficient cooling and heat engine applications, without hazardous greenhouse effect gases;
- Permanent magnets with reduced amount of critical materials, as rare-earth elements;
MATERIALS FOR POLUTION CONTROL
- New catalysts for oxidative desulfurization of diesel and elimination of pollutants (e.g., NOx, CO, VOC-lean combustion);
- Materials for CO2-lean processes, including CO2 separation, capture and conversion;
- Assessment of the potential of porous materials in gas adsorption and gas separation;
- Photoassisted methods for water purification and aquatic eco-system impact;
- Nanosorbents for removing contaminants (heavy metals, drugs) from water.