Start of the EU project “SUNGATE”

November 30, 2023

A new technology platform for the sustainable production of solar fuel by means of artificial photosynthesis

In October 2023, the EU project “SUNGATE” started under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (Fraunhofer IME) in cooperation with 11 partners from industry and research. The aim of the project in which the University of Stuttgart is also participating is to use artificial photosynthesis in order to develop a novel, sustainable, and cost-efficient biohybrid technology that allows a highly efficient and scalable production of solar fuel.

Research for a cost-efficient global energy supply

In view of the energy transition and climate change, solar fuel is a sustainable solution for an environmentally friendly energy supply – whether in mobility, private households, or industrial sectors with high CO2 emissions. A promising approach to producing solar fuel is artificial photosynthesis. However, the current systems are inefficient and, due to the high costs, unsuitable for industry. The EU project “SUNGATE” aims to counteract these limitations and, for this purpose, combines the fundamentals of artificial photosynthesis with photoelectrocatalysis as well as flow microreactor technology and biotechnology. The overall aim of SUNGATE is to provide a technology that can ensure a cost-efficient global energy supply and contribute to climate neutrality by 2050.

The University of Stuttgart is developing materials for highly efficient biohybrid electrodes

Professor Anke Krueger (Institute of Organic Chemistry) and her working group are involved in the project for the University of Stuttgart. The team from the University of Stuttgart wants to develop the diamond materials that are required for the production process. Diamond is a very attractive material for various applications, since it can be produced from sustainable raw materials such as methane. Only thin layers are required and the material has unusual electronic properties. Also, it is durable and environmentally friendly, making it ideal for sustainable chemical-synthesis applications. The research focuses on the optimization of the material’s properties as an electron source as well as the customized functionalization of the diamond surface. In this way, a highly efficient biohybrid electrode material can be developed in cooperation with the partners. It consists of an organic and an artificially produced component and is intended to allow the sustainable conversion of CO2 into solar fuels and building-block molecules for the chemical industry.

Flexible production of solar fuel without fossil energy sources

The unique modular and scalable SUNGATE technology allows a flexible, defossilized production of solar fuel for a wide range of applications. This is intended to pave the way for a unique, modular technology system that, in contrast to established photoelectrochemical systems, does not use toxic or critical raw materials. SUNGATE uses sunlight as its only source of energy, while water and CO2 are inexhaustible raw materials that are then converted into solar fuels such as methanol or formate.

About the consortium

The interdisciplinary project consortium includes 12 industrial and research partners from six EU countries and Turkey. SUNGATE will be funded with a total budget of EUR 4.9 million within the framework of the EU’s Horizon Europe program until 2027, September 30.

Project coordinator

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, Germany  

Project partners

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering 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, Germany
  • Ulm University, Germany
  • Ghent University, Belgium
  • Tarsus University, Turkey
  • 2.-0 LCA consultants, Denmark
  • Danish Board of Technology, Denmark
  • Chemtrix BV, Netherlands

Prof. Dr. Anke Krueger, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Organic Chemistry, phone: +49 711 685-64288, email

Sascha Falkner, Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, phone: +49 241 6085-35138, email

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