A new catalyst created by U of T Engineering researchers brings them one step closer to artificial photosynthesis — a system that, just like plants, would use renewable energy to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into stored chemical energy.
The test will aid the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, in which carbon dioxide from power stations and industrial sites is securely held underground.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is known as a greenhouse gas and plays an essential role in climate change; it is no wonder scientists have been looking for solutions to prevent its release in the environment.
The research could make viable a process that has enormous potential to replace fossil fuels and continue to use existing carbon-based fuel technologies without increasing atmospheric CO2.
A solar microbial fuel cell (SMFC) is a non-semiconductor-based system, which employs microorganisms to generate electric power by photosynthetically replenishing reactants of a sealed microbial fuel cell using sunlight.
Currently, it is possible to make fuels out of CO2–plants do it all the time–but researchers are still trying to crack the problem of artificially producing the fuels at large enough scales to be useful.