Pollution, green gas, and massive carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere are signs of both a modern society and of the way the modern man damages the surrounding environment. It is not something people intend to do; it is just a natural effect of daily activities. Scientists work on a remedy: a revolutionary leaf that produces fuel.
Cornell University researchers relied on the process of photosynthesis, through which plants turn carbon dioxide collected from the atmosphere into oxygen that we can breathe. They thought of a way of transforming harmful carbon dioxide into something beneficial, like fuel, electricity.
The ingenious idea used a revolutionary leaf as a converter. It is not an actual leaf, but it is a cell, quite similar in various aspects. The most important of them is that it simulates photosynthesis: it works with solar energy (just like real plants need sunlight) and collects carbon dioxide and turns it into syngas. Just like one of the authors of the study, Larry Curtiss puts it, plants and the revolutionary leaf work the same, but they offer different products.
Syngas is actually an abbreviation that stands for synthetic natural gas, and it is composed mainly of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. There have been previous attempts of obtaining synthetic natural gas, ( the University of California, last year), but this version has improvements. This type of gas can be used as fuel, and it features half of the energy density generally found with natural gas.
More detailed information has been released, courtesy of Cornell University. For the revolutionary leaf, aluminum has been used for the anode (the best material for the job researchers say), and carbon dioxide and oxygen are parts of the cathode. They were pleased with the results of the tests they have run in the laboratories with the finished product.
Here are some of the statements of scientists contributing to the study:
“We burn so many different kinds of hydrocarbons — like coal, oil or gasoline — that finding an economical way to make chemical fuels more reusable with the help of sunlight might have a big impact” (Peter Zapol)
“Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight”( Amin Salehi-Khojin).
The study of the Cornell University researchers’ team was published in Science Advances.
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