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European Innovation Council
Call for proposalsClosed

EIC Pathfinder Challenge: Carbon dioxide and nitrogen management and valorisation


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Opening date
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Deadline date
19 October 2022, 17:00 (CEST)


Climate change, global warming and water/soil pollution are unprecedented challenges for the planet. To overcome them, it is necessary to develop breakthrough and integrated solutions to disrupt the current production processes and introduce more sustainable consumption habits.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N) flows strongly affect climate change and belong to the cycle of make, use and dispose. To implement CO2/N sustainable cycles there is the need to develop technologies, sustained by renewable energy, able to increase their cycle efficiency introducing novel management and valorisation practices and approaches.

This EIC Pathfinder Challenge aims at developing novel processes and technologies to enable CO2 and N management/valorisation and in turn to reduce:

  • greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,
  • nitrogen losses (mainly due to agricultural practices), so minimizing impact on soil and water,
  • carbon losses from the energy, industrial, agricultural, and livestock sectors.

These technologies could also increase cross sector coupling of energy systems, when renewable energy is required to capture, convert and use carbon and nitrogen streams into added value products.

This Challenge focuses on new biological, chemical, physical routes that integrate the capture and/or recovery of CO2 and N species, storage and their conversion into value-added products, and/or net zero commodities, chemicals, fuels and energy vectors. The processes should focus on the use of renewable energy as input to develop carbon negative or net zero systems. Reaching these objectives requires multidisciplinary competencies and cross-sectorial approaches, with a strong focus on circularity and whole life analysis. The research could address in an integrated manner environmental, industrial, agricultural, socio-economic and logistic issues.

Specific objectives

The proposals, through non-critical raw materials (CRM)-based, systems integrated, life cycle and circular thinking driven approaches, should develop a proof of concept (PoC) or lab-scale validated innovative technology that, will manage and valorise CO2, N, or both at the same time into value-added net zero commodities, chemicals, fuels, or energy vectors. Such technology should produce added-value products optimising input/output energy balances and achieving a carbon negative or net zero process promoting sustainable business models. Besides, the different steps of the CO2/N management and valorisation process could be designed to achieve integration at system or process level, to maximize sector coupling of energy systems such as converting renewable electricity into e-fuels and materials (e.g. power to X).

Expected outcomes and impacts

This Challenge aims at developing:

  • a net zero carbon process involving conversion of CO2 from various sources and streams into renewable fuels or net zero materials, using renewable energy as input. Such technology should involve CO2 capture/conversion (directly from air or from flue gases streams, and through photosynthetic, biological, biophysical, or chemical processes), storage (e.g. through chemical, electrochemical, biogenic processes), and further valorisation (e.g. feedstock for chemical industry, high energy density fuels, energy carriers or other carbon neutral compounds for industrial or agricultural applications). The CO2 valorisation processes should be based on renewable energy and adopt technologies such as co-electrolysis of CO2 and water, catalytic reduction of CO2, or photoelectrochemical CO2 conversion etc.;
  • N integrated management cycle (nitrogen circular economy) to avoid or significantly reduce N release (e.g. from combustion, fertilizer, livestock, and wastewater) in conjunction with the conversion of N-compounds to inert N2, or N-compounds recovery (e.g. using chemical, electrochemical, physical or biological systems), recycle and reuse as feedstock for added-value products or for biological fixation (e.g. into agriculture, as ammonia, as renewable fuels and energy vectors, as liquid hydrogen carriers).

Specific conditions

Applicants should propose a proof of concept or lab-scale validated innovative technology able to manage and valorise CO2 and/or N by biological, chemical, or physical routes without the use of critical raw materials, using renewable energy as sources and not being harmful to the natural ecosystems.

Projects with multidisciplinary and cross-sectorial approaches, looking for inspiration, ideas and knowledge in a broad range of disciplines are particularly welcome. The safe and sustainable use of non-critical raw materials is mandatory, and the projects should include a full life cycle analysis of the proposed solutions and their impact on Europe’s decarbonisation goals.

For more details, see 

12 MARCH 2021
EIC work programme - 2022
15 JUNE 2022
2022 Challenge Guide - Carbon dioxide and nitrogen management and valorisation
7 OCTOBER 2022
FAQs - Challenge 1 - Carbon dioxide and nitrogen management and valorisation


How to apply

The call deadline for submitting your proposal is 19 October 2022 at 17h00 Brussels local time. (The call will open on 15 June 2022. The Director-General responsible for the call may decide to open the call up to one month prior to or after the envisaged date(s) of opening. The Director-General responsible may delay the deadline(s) by up to two months.)

You must submit your proposal via the European Funding & Tender Opportunities Portal.

Sections 1 to 3 of the part B of your proposal, corresponding respectively to the award criteria Excellence, Impact, and Quality and Efficiency of the Implementation, must consist of a maximum of 25 A4 pages. For more details, see the EIC Work Programme 2022.

You will be informed about the outcome of the evaluation 5 months after call deadline (indicative), and your grant agreement will be signed by 8 months after call deadline (indicative).