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Saturday, November 2, 2019

Renewable fuel through artificial leaf technology

Sometimes the progress of science and technology can amaze us, like what is being studied by scientists at Cambridge University. Although this can be said as an initial stage, this could be a technological breakthrough to produce renewable energy.
An illustration of the artificial leaf. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/326HUk1)
Recently, scientists developed artificial leaves that can suck in sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to produce synthesis gas, a gas that can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Chemists at Cambridge University want to develop a device that is inspired by the natural events of photosynthesis. After seven years of research, the experts created what is called an artificial leaf. The research itself has been published in Nature Materials journal.

Like real leaves, these artificial leaves do not need bright sunlight to function. According to scientists, the leaves will work efficiently even in rainy or cloudy weather. In other words, the technology will not be affected by the season.
Cambridge's artificial leaf uses two perovskite light absorbers and a cobalt catalyst to convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into syngas. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2JIabHn)
"We can use it from morning to night anywhere in the world," said Virgil Andrei, a Ph.D. candidate student who is also the lead author of the study. As reported by the Iflscience page, the artificial leaf uses carbon nanotubes with two light absorbers combined with a cobalt-made of catalyst.

After being immersed in water, the reaction will begin with one light absorber using a catalyst to produce oxygen, while the other absorbers carry out chemical reactions to reduce carbon dioxide and water to carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

These three gases are the basis of synthesis gas. The synthesis gas has about half of the natural energy density, but it has several uses in the production of liquid fuels and is considered a renewable energy source.

"You may not have heard of syngas itself but every day, you consume products that were created using it. Being able to produce it sustainably would be a critical step in closing the global carbon cycle and establishing a sustainable chemical and fuel industry," added senior author Professor Erwin Reisner from Cambridge's Department of Chemistry

"What we'd like to do next, instead of first making syngas and then converting it into liquid fuel, is to make the liquid fuel in one step from carbon dioxide and water," added Reisner. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | NATURE MATERIALS | IFLSCIENCE | SCIENCE DAILY | NEW ATLAS]
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