Single atom based photo(electro)catalysts
for green fuel

The use of fossil fuels has caused major energy supply, pollution, and global warming issues. Moving to green energy sources is a top priority. The EU Green Deal seeks carbon neutrality by finding efficient materials for energy production and securing critical raw materials.

Converting renewable energy and waste into green fuels using photo(electro)catalytic processes is crucial for sustainability, but current photo(electro)catalysts have limitations such as rapid charge recombination and low active sites.

Anchoring Earth-abundant single atom catalysts on the photo(electro)catalyst surface can overcome these issues, but accommodating these catalysts is a challenge.

The SAN4Fuel project brings together leading European institutions in photo(electro)catalysis for sustainable energy production, including the University of Trieste, FAU, VSB-Technical University of Ostrava, and Palacký University Olomouc. With the help of SAN4Fuel, a new class of highly efficient photo(electro)catalysts will be developed using anchored and stabilized Earth-abundant catalysts.


SAN4Fuel in numbers:

11/2022 – 10/2025
Project Period
€ 1 498 993
Total budget (100 % EU contribution)
academic partners
EU countries
senior researchers
exchange trainings/visits
Summer schools

The production of hydrogen and hydrocarbons by photocatalytic water splitting and CO2 reduction

The process of photocatalytic and/or photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting involves the use of a photoelectrochemical cell, which consists of a photoactive semiconductor material coated with a co-catalyst, typically noble metals such as e.g. Pt and Ru. When light is shone on the cell, it generates electrons and holes, which are collected by the co-catalyst and used to split the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The PEC water splitting has the potential to be an efficient and cost-effective way to produce hydrogen gas, particularly if it can be integrated into renewable energy systems that use excess energy from sources such as solar or wind to produce hydrogen. However, there are still several technical and economic challenges that need to be addressed to make this process more practical and scalable.

The SAN4Fuel project aims to:
  • Develop new single-atom photocatalysts for green and sustainable fuels production.
  • Focus on photocatalytic water splitting and CO2 reduction for hydrogen and hydrocarbon production.
  • Utilize supercomputing at VSB-TUO for materials design and reaction mechanism descriptions.
  • Foster knowledge sharing among consortium researchers.
  • Enhance career opportunities for early-stage researchers at partner institutions.
  • Strengthen UPOL's management skills for European R&D programs.
  • Increase the research profile of UPOL, VSB-TUO, LKO, and UNITS.
Our research would not be possible without these institutions and sponsors