Monday, August 1, 2016

Mo Energy, No Problems


Researchers have developed a new type of solar cell that is capable of transforming carbon dioxide into usable hydrocarbon fuel using only sunlight as energy. Compared with conventional solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity to be stored in batteries, the new solar cells cheaply and efficiently convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere directly into usable fuel.

The new device works much like trees and plants that capture and convert carbon dioxide into sugars to store them into energy. Unlike plants that use catalysts to produce sugar, the researchers used nanoflake tungsten diselenide catalyst to convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide.

"In photosynthesis, trees need energy from light, water and carbon dioxide in order to make their fuel; in our experiment, the ingredients are the same, but the product is different," study co-author Larry Curtiss said.

The potentially game-changing system may solve crucial problems related to energy use. The new solar cells produce usable energy-dense fuel, which could help address challenges linked with the burning of other kinds of hydrocarbons such as oil, gasoline and coal.

A solar farm of these so-called artificial leaves can also remove significant amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere known to significantly drive global warming.

Battery Fueled by Iron and Water