The ICONIC project starts its journey

The ICONIC project starts, this November 1st, its journey towards the integrated conversion of Nitrate and Carbonate streams. The project pursues the development of a new technology to remediate water ecosystems that have been polluted due to intense agriculture, farming, and CO2 emissions. By using electrolysis to generate globally used chemicals, researchers seek to convert nitrates and carbonates, which are damaging species responsible for eutrophication and ocean acidification, into urea, the most important globally produced C-N chemical.

The proposed system will be powered by renewables, offering a path to close the carbon and nitrogen cycles. It will also implement an integrated electrochemical approach demonstrating, for the first time, the co-electrolysis of carbonates and nitrates into urea from seawater.

The innovation of the project stems from the accelerated discovery of new catalysts that, based on non-critical raw materials, will activate and couple the carbonate and nitrate species; their bottom-up synthesis and assembly into mesostructured electrodes to program reaction environments at high current densities; and their implementation into membrane electrode assemblies, all informed by operando characterizations that inform predictive models to guide in the rational design of the catalyst and system.

Leveraging interdisciplinary expertise

The project leverages interdisciplinary expertise in the areas of chemistry, electrochemistry, materials science, spectroscopies, and engineering, spanning all scales from catalyst design to system-level implementation.

The Consortium is formed by six European research institutions; ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences, the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC) in Spain; the Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in Ireland; the Delft University of Technology (TUDelft) in the Netherlands, and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany. It gathers both senior established and young emerging researchers, all of them with a track record of achievements, who will collaborate towards maximizing the project’s innovation potential.

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