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Energy

313: Photocatalyst sheet

Problem:

Harvesting solar energy to convert carbon dioxide into fuel is a promising way to reduce carbon emissions and transition away from fossil fuels. However, it is challenging to produce these clean fuels without unwanted by-products, in addition, storage of gaseous fuels and separation of by-products can be complicated

Solution:

Wang Qian a researcher at the Department of Chemistry, Cambridge University originally from Jiangxi province has collaborated with artificial photosynthesis expert Erwin Reisner, to develop a standalone biomimicry device that converts sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into a carbon-neutral fuel, without requiring any additional components or electricity.

The 20cm² test unit called a photocatalyst sheet is made up of cost-effective semiconductor powders and uses light as its only energy source, prompting a reaction that produces formic acid, a storable fuel that can be used directly or converted into clean-burning hydrogen.

The wireless device could be scaled up to several m² and used on energy ‘farms’ similar to solar farms, producing clean fuel using sunlight and water. In addition, the formic acid can be accumulated in solution, and be chemically converted into different types of fuel.

Discover Solution 314: Reversible pumped storage systems

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