A team of researchers has created an artificial leaf that can absorb carbon dioxide and convert it into fuel.
The new technology was inspired by how plants use photosynthesis to turn carbon dioxide valuable products, with oxygen and glucose being the primary products. A process similar to photosynthesis is used by the leaf and requires the use of cuprous oxide powder.
According to one of the researchers who were involved in the study, the performance of the new solution is quite impressive since it sports a solar to fuel efficiency of almost 10%. At first sight it may not be too impressive, but it is important to take into account the fact that natural photosynthesis has an efficiency of one percent.
If the researchers manage to attract the support of interest companies they could create a system that uses flow cells to generate liquid fuels since methanol is a by-product of artificial photosynthesis.
While the initial results are quite promising, it is important to note that years of additional research and development are needed before such a solution would be available at a commercial level.
During the study, the researchers used warm water to start the reaction and added carbon dioxide. They also shone white light on them to power the process. The researchers believe that they can augment the leaves to create a system that can convert carbon dioxide released by large-scale sources, among which we can count power plants and oil drilling sites.
In recent times many countries have started to work on effective methods that could limit the effects of climate change. While some positive effects are visible more need to be done to mitigate decades of pollution.
By converting a powerful greenhouse gas into useful products, several goals are achieved at the same time. A paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal.