With fossil fuels quickly diminishing we need more than ever alternate ways in which to power our everyday lives and to cover the ever increasing manner in which we use energy. With the threat of global warming having an incredibly negative impact on our planet it’s now crucial for us to source alternate energy as well as cut back significantly on our current levels of usage. But with energy saving concepts aside their needs to be a real drive now in finding better and more effective ways in which to generate energy with more eco-conscious methods. So could perhaps a new scientific breakthrough from researchers at the University of Illinois provide a solution?
Researchers at the university based in the city of Chicago have managed to engineer a special solar cell that has the ability to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon fuel. Traditional solar cells do the same however they create electricity from sunlight which then has to subsequently be stored in battery form. This newly created device has the ability to convert CO2 directly into fuel which effectively is similar to that of what plants do in the process of photosynthesis. Farming for this type of solar energy would essentially take away substantial quantities of carbon out of the atmosphere and turn it into efficient energy for us to use.
The engineers had been looking for ways in which to create reduction reactions without the need for precious metals, which is typically how this is created. Chemically based reactions convert the CO2 into a form of carbon that can be burnt and a new alternative catalyst was required in order to force this type of CO2 reduction.
It’s a very significant breakthrough for many reasons and what’s more is that this new solar cell is able to convert carbon into energy in a cost-effective manner. In fact the researchers have stated that not only is the new catalyst itself extremely faster than typical noble metal-based efforts but it’s also up to 20 times less expensive to process. It’s a technology that will likely have endless applications and something that will be able to be developed and adapted for a number of industries and other markets looking for more eco-friendly solutions, both for smaller applications as well as for larger scale uses also.