Scientists solve puzzle of converting gaseous carbon dioxide to fuel

Every year, humans advance climate change and global warming by injecting about 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Scientists believe they’ve found a way to convert all these emissions into energy-rich fuel in a carbon-neutral cycle that uses a very abundant natural resource: silicon. Readily available in sand, it’s the seventh most-abundant element in the universe and the second most-abundant element in the earth’s crust.

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A team of scientists from the University of Toronto (U of T) believes they’ve found a way to convert all these emissions into energy-rich fuel in a carbon-neutral cycle that uses a very abundant natural resource: silicon. Silicon, readily available in sand, is the seventh most-abundant element in the universe and the second most-abundant element in the earth’s crust.

The idea of converting carbon dioxide emissions to energy isn’t new: there’s been a global race to discover a material that can efficiently convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water or hydrogen to fuel for decades. However, the chemical stability of carbon dioxide has made it difficult to find a practical solution.

Geoffrey Ozin, a chemistry professor in U of T’s Faculty of Arts & Science, the Canada Research Chair in Materials Chemistry and lead of U of T’s Solar Fuels Research Cluster, stated that, a chemistry solution to climate change requires a material that is a highly active and selective catalyst to enable the conversion of carbon dioxide to fuel. It also needs to be made of elements that are low cost, non-toxic and readily available

The hydride-terminated silicon nanocrystals — nanostructured hydrides for short — have an average diameter of 3.5 nanometres and feature a surface area and optical absorption strength sufficient to efficiently harvest the near-infrared, visible and ultraviolet wavelengths of light from the sun together with a powerful chemical-reducing agent on the surface that efficiently and selectively converts gaseous carbon dioxide to gaseous carbon monoxide.The potential result: energy without harmful emissions.

Ozin further stated that, Making use of the reducing power of nanostructured hydrides is a conceptually distinct and commercially interesting strategy for making fuels directly from sunlight.

The U of T Solar Fuels Research Cluster is working to find ways and means to increase the activity, enhance the scale, and boost the rate of production. Their goal is a laboratory demonstration unit and, if successful, a pilot solar refinery.

 

 

Reference-The above post is edited from materials provided by University of Toronto.

Edited by- Omkar Joshi.

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