A new sun-powered device transforms CO2 and water vapor into fuel.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are currently the leading cause of global climate change, but they could soon be a source for fuel. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have developed a device that converts a mixture of CO2 and water vapor into natural gas using nanotubes and sunlight. This is an improvement over similar devices because it is able to utilize a broader spectrum of visible frequencies within sunlight, rather than ultraviolet light.
The device features an array of nanotubes formed from titanium dioxide and coated with catalytic copper and platinum particles. The array serves as the catalyst for the reaction, and the improved efficiency as a result of the materials and increased surface area allows the device to be powered by sunlight. The reaction creates methane, as well as related organic compounds, when allowed to run to completion; stopping the reaction prematurely produces a syngas that can be converted into diesel.
While it would not be economically viable to scale the current device into a commercial operation, further development of the technology could hold great promise for not only creating renewable fuels, but also in reducing CO2 emissions. You can read more about this device on the New Scientist website here.
There is a great deal of much-needed work being done to prevent and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and to sequester those emissions from power plants. This device could play a vital third step in creating something useful out of the emissions we cannot avoid. Not only would it reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by using it as a fuel stock, it would also reduce CO2 going into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. The potential impact is very exciting. ~Kevin
Kevin is the Consumer Services Manager and Resource Development Associate at Renewable Choice Energy.