Novel technology that directly uses sun’s energy could lessen climate change

Novel technology that directly uses sun’s energy could lessen climate change

If this experimental solar-powered technology makes a successful transition from the laboratory to industrials-scale use, it can prove quite beneficial in reducing the effect of climate change.

A team of scientists has reported in the journal Science that they have created a device that absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and uses sunlight to break it into a mix of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, called synthesis gas. This mix can be used directly or turned into diesel or other liquid fuel, said study’s lead researcher Amin Salehi-Khojin, a mechanical engineer from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Burning transportation fuel and fossil fuels release carbon back into the atmosphere. However, this process could be considered as a carbon-neutral energy source as carbon is removed from the atmosphere to make the synthesis gas and produces no new emissions.

It would not be wrong to consider it as a real artificial leaf, affirmed Salehi-Khojin. The research team plans to produce fuel at around $2 per gallon, which would be cost competitive with gasoline. Mohammad Asadi, a researcher in Salehi-Khojin’s lab, was of the view that the best part of the technology is that it uses solar energy.

Currently, the team has created a working prototype of the device. It works by using artificial sunlight and direct source of carbon dioxide. The research team has filed for a provisional patent for the technology.

Asadi affirmed, “In terms of the size of the setup, we have used 100 square centimeters of the catalyst. We need to make it bigger than this to take it to the industrial scale”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found this type of innovation to be crucial to avert extreme climate change.