CRONUS addresses the current gaps in biofuels production, namely the carbon waste and biogenic effluent gases and their related environmental problems by implementing optimised management systems whilst having a positive trade–off with productivity, quality and environmental impact. The overall objective of CRONUS is to develop, assess and test 5 new integrated and sustainable technological solutions for highly efficient biogenic effluent gases CUS within the biofuels value chain. Thus, by the cutting-edge sustainable innovations proposed in terms of techno-economic feasible solutions, CRONUS will assure biofuels’ public and regulators acceptance and market incursion. CRONUS aims to make the energy supply cleaner, more secure, and competitive by boosting cost performance and reliability of a broad portfolio of solutions, in line with societal needs and preferences. To this end, CRONUS aims to address the aforementioned challenges through the following specific objectives:

Objective 1

Detailed analysis and evaluation of inter and intraregional biogenic effluent gases within biofuels value chain

CRONUS will map the current situation on biogenic gases generation within biofuels value chain and the legal framework to establish the baseline against which to compare innovation and progress in reusing or inhibiting their production. Project partners and key stakeholders will identify preconditions and influencing factors that drive or hamper the transition to greenhouse gas neutrality of the energy and mobility sectors, boosting biofuels market. A basic inventory database will be developed to determine biogenic gases production from the biofuel sector in Europe, allowing the development of a matrix defining CUS technologies of biogenic effluent gases and assessing their impact on the sustainability of biofuels.

Objective 2

Engagement of society in the co-design, co-development and co-implementation of carbon negative biofuels innovations

CRONUS aims to improve stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of carbon negative biofuels innovations, through active engagement in the co-design, co-development and co-implementation of these novel technologies via Communities of practices (CoPs). The main factors affecting social acceptability of carbon negative biofuels innovations will be identified and their social acceptance will be improved.

Objective 3

Development of efficient, clean, sustainable, secure and competitive technological solutions for biogenic gases utilisation within the biofuels value chain

CRONUS will validate in practice a spectrum of biogenic gases CUS technologies, through sustainable pathways, aimed at minimising the risks and impacts caused by the biogenic gases generation, while ensuring the economic profitability of the integrated biofuels systems. Firstly, 6 technologies for biogenic effluent gases valorisation such as enzymatic capture of CO2, autotrophic algae cultivation, biological CO2 hydrogenation, syngas biomethanation, in-situ biomethanation, biogenic carbon storage by biochar production and soil application shall be investigated at lab scale. A technical, economic and environmental assessment will be developed to select the optimized pathways to scale up. Integrated treatment schemes derived from the technological processes examined shall be developed in relevant environment. 5 Functional Prototypes (FPs) will be tested within the biofuels production line (taking into account the origin of feedstock, the type of biofuel and valorisation technology as well as geographical, environmental and socio-economic aspects). Advanced physico-chemical, electrochemical and biological processes, fine control automation and state-of-the-art technologies will be combined so as to provide a fractionated, carefully controlled technique customised to the efficient, sustainable, secure and competitive biofuels production. The capacity as well as the operating period of the FPs (at least 12 months) will confirm the validation of the technological schemes in relevant environment, thus ensuring their technical viability at the targeted TRL 5.

Objective 4

Comprehensive identification and assessment of the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the new proposed solutions through a life-cycle assessment

CRONUS will quantify, with specific analysis and demonstration activities to end-users, the environmental and socioeconomic impact of the selected systems. A data compilation strategy will be developed to include several variables to be studied along the whole biofuels value chain, including those related to indirect fossil fuel consumption. Variables will be assessed against the impacts of CRONUS to place Europe at the forefront of the biofuels sector and mitigate negative effects on the environment, ecosystems, society and health. CRONUs will also demonstrate the sustainability benefits in biofuel supply chains via the integration of CRONUS solutions. The research and innovation actions carried out under the project, which focus on the early stages of the biogenic gases valorisation, will be integrated into the biofuels production industries in order to initiate the transformation process of the EU biofuels sector and contribute to the efficiency of EU resources, as a decision support system based on Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA).

KPIs: (a)5 fully-functional life-cycle models; (b) 71-94% reduction of the CO2 emissions per kg of biofuel produced; (c)Cost competitive process design, effect to CAPEX investigated and reported; (d) 35-75% saving energy consumption; (e)>30% increase biofuel supply chain circularity; (f)Decision Support System (DSS) architecture verified in 5 FPs; (g)inputs for the co-design from >30 stakeholders; (h)at least two case-scenarios for net negative biofuels with CRONUS solutions.

Objective 5

Definition of the guidelines for industrialisation and application of the biogenic gases CUS technologies

Biofuels oriented guidelines will be designed for the industrialisation of the best integrated biofuels systems including quality and safety criteria. CRONUS aims to define and setup business models and marketing concepts and prepare market entry of CRONUS products in industrial settings. The project also aims to unveil and enhance technologies and end-product market potential through targeted support actions, and to foster networking and create synergies between commercialized outputs and potential customers/end-users, advancing further market uptake. Through the definition of business models, an assessment of consumer readiness levels and an evaluation of the acceptance level and the economic feasibility all along the value chain will be obtained, in addition to the Legal/Market/Consumer Readiness Level & Impacts. By considering those dimensions CRONUS will design a credible path to deliver the innovations to the market, maximizing impact and generating added value to the companies involved.

Objective 6

To bridge scientists and policymakers

CRONUS aims to provide innovative regulatory framework recommendations and public-private agreements to manage in a sustainable and resilient way the biogenic gases production for all interested users and sectors, based on the understanding of the value of biofuels, and using fit-for-purpose, adaptive and evolving economic and governance mechanisms. This will progressively promote alternatives to fossil-based economies.

Objective 7

To disseminate and communicate CRONUS objective and results

Dissemination, communication and education on biogenic gases CUS and integrated biofuels systems will be addressed in order to highlight the added value of the biogenic gases valorisation and stimulate biofuel industries and authorities/utilities to replicate and implement innovative solutions and business models benefiting the whole value chain. Dedicated activities for the different types of stakeholders will be developed, at local and EU level. Last but not least, clustering activities with sister projects and initiatives are envisaged to foster knowledge exchange.