(ORDO NEWS) — There is a lot of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, there is a lot of it in cities, so scientists are looking for ways to reduce its content in the air. In 2018, researchers at the Berkeley Lab found an amazing way to turn carbon dioxide into alcohol.
Moreover, for this transformation, nothing is needed, except for the energy of the Sun. Well, alcohol has a lot of different uses.
The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at Berkeley Lab is looking for a way to replicate the process by which plants convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into energy. Such methods have already been found, but they usually require huge amounts of electricity.
For artificial photosynthesis, the amount of electricity used is measured in sunlight. One unit of solar illumination is equal to the amount of electricity needed to simulate the Sun at its zenith on a cloudless day, while 0.1 solar illumination is equal to the energy produced at sunset.
Most modern artificial photosynthesis machines operate on only one unit, which is fine in the lab but impractical in the real world.
To keep the artificial photosynthesis reaction running at low energy, the Berkeley team turned to new materials.
In 2018, they developed an iridium dioxide nanotube anode that turns water into oxygen, and a copper-silver nanocoral cathode that turns carbon dioxide into ethanol. As a result, the process of artificial photosynthesis became possible even with 0.35 solar illumination.
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