A new discovery enables scientists to turn CO2 into fuel using the power of the sun.
Researchers in Chicago have just stumbled upon something that is potentially major: technology that would mimic a plant’s ability to inhale carbon dioxide and then convert it into glucose and oxygen, which could mean the end of gasoline production. The system would be able to draw in carbon dioxide and turn it into a synthetic fuel that could be used in vehicles, eliminating the need for polluting — and finite — fossil fuels.
And it would help scrub the atmosphere, turning the carbon that is heating our planet into fuel for cars, according to a statement from the University of Illinois at Chicago. This artificial leaf has a pair of solar cells that power a much more complex version of electrolysis that we’ve known about for a long time. Energy from the sun would be turned into synthetic gas that could be pumped directly into vehicles or converted into diesel.
Scientists have been exploring similar processes, but until now no one had been able to actually create a synthetic gas that could theoretically be used as fuel.
The challenge would be to make it cost-effective. If such a challenge could be met, it would be huge for our planet, reducing or even eliminating the need for gasoline and instead allow manking to use a solar farm to generate fuel while cutting down on carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
“This work has benefitted from the significant history of NSF support for basic research that feeds directly into valuable technologies and engineering achievements,” said NSF program director Robert McCabe in the statement.
“The results nicely meld experimental and computational studies to obtain new insight into the unique electronic properties of transition metal dichalcogenides,” McCabe said. “The research team has combined this mechanistic insight with some clever electrochemical engineering to make significant progress in one of the grand-challenge areas of catalysis as related to energy conversion and the environment.”