Every year, humans advance climate change and global warming – and quite likely our own eventual extinction – by injecting about 30 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO?) into the atmosphere.
A team of U of T scientists 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 CO? 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 CO? has made it difficult to find a practical solution.
“A chemistry solution to climate change requires a material that is a highly active and selective catalyst to enable the conversion of CO? to fuel. It also needs to be made of elements that are low cost, non-toxic and readily available,” said Faculty of Arts & Science chemistry professor Geoffrey Ozin, the Canada Research Chair in Materials Chemistry and lead of U of T’s Solar Fuels Research Cluster.
In an article in Nature Communications published August 23, Ozin and colleagues report silicon nanocrystals that meet all the criteria. 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.
“Making use of the reducing power of nanostructured hydrides is a conceptually distinct and commercially interesting strategy for making fuels directly from sunlight,” said Ozin.
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.
The Latest on: Converting CO2 emissions to fuel
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The Latest on: Converting CO2 emissions to fuel
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would be at least 10 times more efficient than natural leaves at converting carbon dioxide to fuel. Their findings are reported in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, Science Daily re... […]
- Synthetic Bunker Fuel Can Reduce CO2 Emissions Where Electrification Not Possible: MAN on February 10, 2019 at 6:31 pm
It is here that MAN Energy Solutions believes synthetic bunker fuels can help, and points to its Power-to-X technology that can be used to convert renewable energy ... "For example, CO2 emissions can ... […]
- David City landfill now converting waste gas to natural gas on February 6, 2019 at 3:35 pm
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculations, the Butler County project will directly reduce emissions from 5,500 tons of methane and avoid nearly 14,000 tons of carbon dioxide ... […]
- Hapag-Lloyd first in world to convert large container ship to LNG on February 5, 2019 at 3:14 pm
“By converting the ‘Sajir’, we will be ... way for large ships to be retrofitted to use this alternative fuel.” Using LNG in the shipping industry could potentially reduce CO2 emissions by 15 to 30 pe... […]
- Hapag-Lloyd to Convert 15,000 TEU Containership to LNG Fuel on February 5, 2019 at 12:29 pm
helping to eliminate 15 to 30 percent of CO2 emissions compared to traditional fuel oil. A contract for the retrofit was signed last week with Hudong ZHONGHUA Shipbuilding. The conversion will be ... […]
- Hapag-Lloyd to Convert Containership to LNG on February 5, 2019 at 4:48 am
from Germany comes news of a unique 'world first' project to convert the 15,000 TEU containership Sajir to LNG, resulting in an estimated reduction of CO2 emissions from 15 to 30 percent. While the us... […]
- Construction begins on Longmont facility project to convert sewage treatment gas to trash truck fuel on January 22, 2019 at 5:41 pm
Once completed, the facility will convert gas from Longmont's sewage treatment process into fuel for city trash ... reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of about 1,000 metric tons of ca... […]
- Finnish researchers discuss new tech converting CO2 for making fuel on October 10, 2018 at 3:32 pm
HELSINKI, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Finnish researchers said on Wednesday the commercial production of fuel from carbon dioxide emissions would be commercially viable if electricity would be cheaper. A Finn... […]
- Pilot plant demonstrates low-cost conversion of CO2 into fuel on June 7, 2018 at 8:34 pm
The pilot plant is made up of an industrial cooling tower, remodeled to pull CO2 from the air before converting ... fuel is fully compatible with existing engines, so it provides the transportation se... […]
- New Calgary facility plans to turn fossil fuel emissions into stuff we can use on May 25, 2018 at 4:05 pm
Users of the centre will test carbon capture and conversion technologies that will be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by taking carbon dioxide and turning into value-added products. The innova... […]
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