Through artificial photosynthesis, chemists at the University of Illinois have successfully produced fuels using water, carbon dioxide, and visible light. By converting carbon dioxide into more complex molecules like propane, green energy technology can use this excess CO2 to store solar energy for use when the sun is not shining and in times of peak demand.
In a new study, the researchers developed an artificial process that uses the same green light portion of the visible light spectrum used by plants during natural photosynthesis to convert CO2 and water into fuel, in conjunction with electron-rich gold nano-particles that serve as a catalyst.
“The goal here is to produce complex, liquefiable hydrocarbons from excess CO2 and other sustainable resources such as sunlight,” said Prashant Jain, a chemistry professor and co-author of the study. “Liquid fuels are ideal because they are easier, safer and more economical to transport than gas, and because they are made from long-chain molecules, contain more bonds — meaning they pack energy more densely.” Read the full article to learn more.