A study published in Nature Materials by a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge suggests that a natural gas produced from fossil fuels can now be made from “artificial leaves” that use only sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, according to foreign media reports. This may be used to develop sustainable liquid fuels to replace gasoline.
The researchers were inspired by photosynthesis. On artificial leaves, two photoabsorbents similar to the molecules that absorb sunlight in plants are combined with a catalyst made from naturally abundant cobalt elements.
When the device is immersed in water, a photoabsorbr uses a catalyst to produce oxygen. Another chemical reaction restores carbon dioxide and water to carbon monoxide and hydrogen, forming a synthetic gas mixture.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have shown that the carbon neutrality device can produce the synthetic gas directly in a sustainable and simple way, and it could also set a new benchmark in the field of solar fuel.
The researchers point out that artificial leaves do not use fossil fuels, but rather provide energy from sunlight and work effectively on cloudy days. Unlike the current industrial processes for producing syngas, the blades do not release any additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Currently, the team is looking for ways to use their technology to produce sustainable liquid fuels that replace gasoline.