A team of researchers has managed to develop a device that can convert carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight into carbon-neutral fuel. The impressive device does not require an additional source of energy to function, a trait that makes it very promising.
To make the device work, the team decided to use artificial photosynthesis, which mimics the way in which plants are able to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy. A state-of-the-art photosheet technology converts sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into oxygen and formic acid. The resulting fuel can be used as it is or converted into hydrogen.
Consuming carbon dioxide
The conversion of carbon dioxide into usable fuel is a great way to reduce the number of carbon emissions in the long run while also facilitating a transition that will reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. However, in most cases, it is quite challenging to produce fuel without unnecessary by-products.
One of the primary aims of the researchers was to achieve artificial photosynthesis that also features a high selectivity trait, so the highest amount of solar energy can be spent on the conversion process instead of being wasted.
Generating liquid fuel
According to one of the researchers who contributed to the experiment, the production of a liquid fuel that can be stored and transported easily is a great boon, as previous attempts of this kind resulted in the production of gaseous fuels that have to be separated from by-products.
A cobalt-based converting catalyst is a primary element used for the conversion, and it can be produced easily. It is also easy to scale-up, and the team is already working on a range of catalysts that could be employed to optimize reactions for different sizes and to obtain different fuels.
More information can be found in a paper that was published in a scientific journal.