IU chemists create molecular ‘leaf’ that collects and stores solar power without solar panels
An international team of scientists led by Liang-shi Li at Indiana University has achieved a new milestone in the quest to recycle carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere into carbon-neutral fuels and others materials.
The chemists have engineered a molecule that uses light or electricity to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide — a carbon-neutral fuel source — more efficiently than any other method of “carbon reduction.”
The process is reported today in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
“If you can create an efficient enough molecule for this reaction, it will produce energy that is free and storable in the form of fuels,” said Li, associate professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry. “This study is a major leap in that direction.”
Burning fuel — such as carbon monoxide — produces carbon dioxide and releases energy. Turning carbon dioxide back into fuel requires at least the same amount of energy. A major goal among scientists has been decreasing the excess energy needed.
This is exactly what Li’s molecule achieves: requiring the least amount of energy reported thus far to drive the formation of carbon monoxide. The molecule — a nanographene-rhenium complex connected via an organic compound known as bipyridine — triggers a highly efficient reaction that converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide.
The ability to efficiently and exclusively create carbon monoxide is significant due to the molecule’s versatility.
“Carbon monoxide is an important raw material in a lot of industrial processes,” Li said. “It’s also a way to store energy as a carbon-neutral fuel since you’re not putting any more carbon back into the atmosphere than you already removed. You’re simply re-releasing the solar power you used to make it.”
The secret to the molecule’s efficiency is nanographene — a nanometer-scale piece of graphite, a common form of carbon (i.e. the black “lead” in pencils) — because the material’s dark color absorbs a large amount of sunlight.
Li said that bipyridine-metal complexes have long been studied to reduce carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide with sunlight. But these molecules can use only a tiny sliver of the light in sunlight, primarily in the ultraviolet range, which is invisible to the naked eye. In contrast, the molecule developed at IU takes advantage of the light-absorbing power of nanographene to create a reaction that uses sunlight in the wavelength up to 600 nanometers — a large portion of the visible light spectrum.
Essentially, Li said, the molecule acts as a two-part system: a nanographene “energy collector” that absorbs energy from sunlight and an atomic rhenium “engine” that produces carbon monoxide. The energy collector drives a flow of electrons to the rhenium atom, which repeatedly binds and converts the normally stable carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide.
The idea to link nanographene to the metal arose from Li’s earlier efforts to create a more efficient solar cell with the carbon-based material. “We asked ourselves: Could we cut out the middle man — solar cells — and use the light-absorbing quality of nanographene alone to drive the reaction?” he said.
Next, Li plans to make the molecule more powerful, including making it last longer and survive in a non-liquid form, since solid catalysts are easier to use in the real world. He is also working to replace the rhenium atom in the molecule — a rare element — with manganese, a more common and less expensive metal.
[osd_subscribe categories=’carbon-dioxide-to-fuel’ placeholder=’Email Address’ button_text=’Subscribe Now for any new posts on the topic “CARBON DIOXIDE TO FUEL”‘]
Receive an email update when we add a new CARBON DIOXIDE TO FUEL article.
The Latest on: Carbon dioxide to fuel
via Google News
The Latest on: Carbon dioxide to fuel
- Investment urgently needed in new technology to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions at airports, report revealson August 1, 2022 at 8:05 am
Multi-million-pound investment is urgently needed in technologies including direct air capture (DAC) if the UK is to make 'green' airports a reality in the future, research by Cranfield University has ...
- Carbon Capture Won’t Work, But It Will Funnel Billions to Corporationson July 31, 2022 at 9:00 am
Fossil fuel interests persuaded the government to waste billions on false schemes that don’t solve the climate crisis.
- Not just bread and beer: Microbes can ferment carbon dioxide to make fuel tooon July 28, 2022 at 6:21 am
Bakers ferment dough for a well-risen loaf of bread. Brewers ferment wheat and barley for a smooth, malty glass of beer. And as nature's foremost bakers and brewers, some microbes can do even more.
- Engineers Turn Water into Carbon-Neutral Jet Fuel Using Solar Radiationon July 27, 2022 at 11:30 am
of human emissions are generated through kerosene use in aviation, which currently has no alternative for long haul jetting.
- Carbon dating hampered by rising fossil-fuel emissionson July 27, 2022 at 9:57 am
Archaeologists will increasingly have to rely on other techniques as emissions continue to alter the composition of carbon isotopes in air.
- Formula 1 says it's on schedule to switch to fully sustainable fuel in 2026on July 26, 2022 at 1:00 pm
It's currently developing a "drop-in" fully sustainable fuel for use in F1 cars — it claims most road cars would be able to use the fuel too. This season, F1 cars are using E10 fuel, which includes 10 ...
- How to make jet fuel from sunlight, air and water vaporon July 26, 2022 at 6:00 am
Solar kerosene could one day replace petroleum-derived jet fuel in airplanes and help stabilize greenhouse gas emissions.
- Researchers Develop Carbon-Neutral Fuel for the Aviation Industryon July 21, 2022 at 9:39 am
Scientists have built an aviation fuel production system that uses water, carbon dioxide (CO2), and sunlight. They have put the system into action, and the design, which was published on July 20th, ...
- All-in-one solar-powered tower makes carbon-neutral jet fuelon July 20, 2022 at 2:02 pm
Researchers have designed a fuel production system that uses water, carbon dioxide (CO2), and sunlight to produce aviation fuel. They have implemented the system in the field, and the design, ...
via Bing News