Nano-Engineered Co-Ionic
Ceramic Reactors for
CO2/H2O Electro-conversion
to Light Olefins

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ECOLEFINS aims to establish a new, all-electric paradigm
for the electro-conversion of CO2 and H2O to light olefins
the key-intermediates for polymers and other daily life
chemical products.

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CO-Ionics for carbon negative Petrochemicals

ECOLEFINS concept reverses the heavy CO2 emissions associated to the petroleum-based light olefins production to massive CO2 capture and valorisation for carbon negative ethylene, propylene and butylene. The project will introduce co-ionic ceramic membrane reactors and short-stacks/modules that merge the anodic steam electrolysis for hydrogen production with the cathodic CO2 electrolysis and hydrogenation to light olefins, over tailored and nano-engineered electrodes; aiming to develop a substantially more effective technology, for the single-step, RES-powered artificial photosynthesis of CO2 to valuable chemicals.
The ambition of ECOLEFINS entails a multi-disciplinary task, requiring highly tuned synergies among cutting edge research in the fields of:

  • Advanced materials science & engineering for co-ionic composites, perovskite ex-solutions, and organometallics
  • Electrochemistry and electrochemical process engineering
  • Catalysis science and engineering
  • Computer aided materials design and atomic scale modelling
  • Digital real-scale process modelling and economic evaluation, along with a comprehensive sustainability assessment, applied social research for impact framing, and marketization planning
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The proposed, integrated CO2 hydrogenation and H2O electrolysis ECOLEFINS approach includes the following breakthroughs:

Dual-phase ceramic electrolytes aided by DFT calculations

The development of dual-phase ceramic electrolytes aided by DFT calculations with co-ionic conductivity of both protons (H+) and oxide anions (O2-), at moderate temperatures (300 – 400 oC)

Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) and Covalent-Organic Frameworks (COFs)

The incorporation of Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) and Covalent-Organic Frameworks (COFs) into the MIEC cathode matrices, as multi-purpose agents.


The utilization of exsolution in perovskites to develop cathodes/anodes consisting of functional mixed electron/ion conducting (MIEC) oxide matrices decorated with uniformly dispersed nanoparticles of exceptional catalytic performance.

For the simultaneous H+ supply and O2- withdrawal from the cathodic electro-catalyst and to in-situ tune its surface chemistry for C2-4= selective electro-synthesis


The vision of ECOLEFINS includes:



The synthesis of light olefins from H2O and CO2 co-electrolysis by combining the exothermic C2-4= synthesis with the endothermic steam electrolysis in a single electrochemical membrane reactor at atmospheric pressure achieving +15% energy efficiency


The scale up of the concept to short planar stacks and tubular modules



The drastic increase of CO2 conversion and C2-4= selectivity by controlling the H+ supply and suppressing CO and CH4 formation


Long term impact

ECOLEFINS aspires to the following long-term impacts:

Decouple major petrochemicals from petroleum

Expand C2-4= production to end users

At full deployment, save up to ~15% of EU’s total CO2 emissions

Cut half down the electrified C2-4= energy consumption and cost, compared to high pressure thermocatalytic alternative with low temperature electrolytic H2

The CO2-to-olefins tailored innovations for cathodic electrocatalysts and co-ionic membranes of controlled H+/O2- supply/withdrawal intends to considerably improve C2-4 =yield, compared to the SoA thermocatalysis. Besides, the mid-temperature electrolysis, along with the elimination or the drastic reduction of the high- pressure requirement, promise significant efficiency gains. These combined, project a long-term vision of high impact and transformative effect within the core of the energy intensive commodity chemical industry. The envisioned technology is fully aligned to the EU Green Deal Strategy, to make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent and to transform EU’s chemical Industry into a global innovation hub. Based on zero-cost and abundant H2O/CO2 as well as the high production volumes of C2-4=, ECOLEFINS concept aspires to be a key “artificial photosynthesis” step for sustainable Power-to-Chemicals routes.

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This research has received funding from the European Union under grant agreement No 101099717 – ECOLEFINS project. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) granting authority. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.