A device created at the University of Cambridge mimics photosynthesis and could generate a flammable gas from just water, sunlight and carbon dioxide in the presence of the metal cobalt.
It was named syngas. Scientists think at this as to a sustainable liquid fuel serving as an alternative to petrol. Chemist Erwin Reisner of the University of Cambridge and colleagues managed to ensure that the device releases no additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. ' Being able to produce it sustainably would be a critical step in closing the global carbon cycle and establishing a sustainable chemical and fuel industry,' the team hopes. ' They have managed to make the artificial leaf sustainable, unlike others in the past, thanks to the combination of materials and catalysts they used. The artificial leaf is even able to work on cloudy and overcast days without a loss in of performance.
The device is working
They have already a better plan for the future: 'What we'd like to do next, instead of first making syngas and then converting it into liquid fuel, is to make the liquid fuel in one step from carbon dioxide and water,' said Professor Reisner. Artificial photosynthesis was known for decades but it has not yet been successfully used to create renewable energy.