Scientists have invented a device that mimics the photosynthesis process, a chemical reaction by which plants convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into energy. Scientists are getting started with creating syngas sustainably. They have an artificial leaf that could be a source of a sustainable alternative to petrol.
This device created eco-friendly syngas and could be developed into a potential substitute for liquid fuel like petrol as well as be used in other commodities such as pharmaceuticals, fertilizers and plastics. This device does not release any additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere because of the combination of materials and catalysts used.
You may have heard of syngas itself, but every day you consume products that were created using them. Syngas, short for synthetic gas, is a mixture of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen produced by gasification of a carbon-containing fuel. To be able to produce it sustainably would be crucial in closing the global carbon cycle and establishing an eco-friendly chemical and fuel industries.
Similar to the plant molecules that harvest sunlight combined with a cobalt catalyst, the device uses two light absorbers. When placed in water, one light absorber uses the catalyst to produce oxygen, while the other carries out the chemical reaction that splits carbon dioxide and water into carbon monoxide and hydrogen, forming the syngas mixture.
The researchers managed to put together the device, ensuring that it works efficiently even on rainy or cloudy days. According to them, the invention could help them create products such as ethanol, which can be readily used as liquid fuel. They hope to demonstrate this technology in the near future, once they have the right catalysts at their disposal.