In a new development, researchers have created a standalone device that transforms carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight into a carbon-neutral fuel, without the need of any additional components of electricity.
Developed by a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge, this is a significant step towards achieving artificial photosynthesis. The device is based on advanced photosheet technology and transforms carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water into oxygen and formic acid.
The outcome of the study published in the journal Nature Energy represents a new method for transforming carbon dioxide into clean fuels. The use of the wireless instrument could be scaled up to be used in energy farms akin to solar farms, to produce clean fuel using water and sunlight.
Use of solar Energy to convert into fuels favorable to reduce Carbon Emissions
Meanwhile, the use of solar energy to transform carbon dioxide into fuels is a favorable method to reduce carbon emissions and reduce the use of fossil fuels. However, to produce clean fuels without undesirable byproducts remains a challenge.
“And, achieving artificial photosynthesis with a high grade of selectivity has been difficult, so as to transform as much as sunlight as possible into fuel, and not be left with waste,” said the first author of the study.
Furthermore, storing gaseous fuels and separation of byproducts can be complex. The process should be such to be able to cleanly produce a liquid and can also be easily stored and transported.
Earlier, in 2019, a team of researchers from Reisner’s group fabricated a solar reactor based on an artificial leaf design. This device also uses carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water to generate a fuel, known as syngas. The new technology appears and behaves similar to artificial leaf, but works differently and produces formic acid.