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Breakthrough solar cell captures CO2 and sunlight, produces burnable fuel

azgreg

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This looks promising.

https://news.uic.edu/breakthrough-solar-cell-captures-co2-and-sunlight-produces-burnable-fuel

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have engineered a potentially game-changing solar cell that cheaply and efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel, using only sunlight for energy.
The finding is reported in the July 29 issue of Science and was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. A provisional patent application has been filed.
Unlike conventional solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity that must be stored in heavy batteries, the new device essentially does the work of plants, converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuel, solving two crucial problems at once. A solar farm of such “artificial leaves” could remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and produce energy-dense fuel efficiently.
 

cpwill

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clownboy

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into usable hydrocarbon fuel

And what happens when that fuel is burned to harvest the energy? Same thing that happens now when we burn oil, coal, gas? Why not just use for fuel the natural gas we have on hand in abundance already? Is the answer to produce more oil, coal, gas, but without the other components we use (and need) from those resources? From a barrel of oil we derive thousands of vital products that have nothing whatsoever to do with burning or hydrocarbon fuel.

And while we're sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, what effect will this have on the plant kingdom, you know those crops we're dependent upon for silly things like sustenance?
 

Howler63

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Two things. I hope it works as advertised (I'm a little gun shy on these 'miracle' breakthroughs) and I hope it's economically viable.

But we're STILL missing the storage. All the solar energy in the galaxy is useless if we can't use it in the dark.
 

Risky Thicket

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So, not only are we going to get lots of energy, but this offers a potential way to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, thereby alleviating what the AGWers' claim is going to End Us All?


They're going to shut this down. Actual replenishable sustainable energy is the enemy.


But I'm excited :D I want this for my house.

All too true, CP. There ain't no way that big energy is going to allow something of this magnitude to be available to the public. But if it is made available - without prohibitive use taxes - I'd have it installed on my house as soon as possible.
 

clownboy

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All too true, CP. There ain't no way that big energy is going to allow something of this magnitude to be available to the public. But if it is made available - without prohibitive use taxes - I'd have it installed on my house as soon as possible.

It will be no more available to the public than the manufacture of biofuels. The syngas result has to be stored and burned to gain the energy you need for use in your home.
 

Skeptic Bob

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And what happens when that fuel is burned to harvest the energy? Same thing that happens now when we burn oil, coal, gas? Why not just use for fuel the natural gas we have on hand in abundance already? Is the answer to produce more oil, coal, gas, but without the other components we use (and need) from those resources? From a barrel of oil we derive thousands of vital products that have nothing whatsoever to do with burning or hydrocarbon fuel.

And while we're sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, what effect will this have on the plant kingdom, you know those crops we're dependent upon for silly things like sustenance?

It isn't the same as using oil. It would be using CO2 already in the atmosphere. When we drill for oil we are introducing new CO2 into the atmosphere that originally was sequestered away underground. And don't worry. There would still be more than enough CO2 for the plants.
 

Absentglare

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So, not only are we going to get lots of energy, but this offers a potential way to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, thereby alleviating what the AGWers' claim is going to End Us All?


They're going to shut this down. Actual replenishable sustainable energy is the enemy.


But I'm excited :D I want this for my house.

Ugh really ?
 

clownboy

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It isn't the same as using oil. It would be using CO2 already in the atmosphere. When we drill for oil we are introducing new CO2 into the atmosphere that originally was sequestered away underground. And don't worry. There would still be more than enough CO2 for the plants.

Have you ever worked in a greenhouse? If you had you'd know they have CO2 generators running.

CO2Gen1.jpg


Johnson CO2 Generator

And yes, this is the same as natural gas - it produces a hydrocarbon fuel (syngas). You're still going to have emissions burning this fuel. Btw, drilling for oil isn't introducing new CO2, neither is burning it for that matter. Burning it reintroduces CO2 that has been previously stored.
 

the_recruit

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And yes, this is the same as natural gas - it produces a hydrocarbon fuel (syngas). You're still going to have emissions burning this fuel.

But as brewerbob pointed out this will involve carbon that is already in the atmosphere right now.

Btw, drilling for oil isn't introducing new CO2, neither is burning it for that matter. Burning it reintroduces CO2 that has been previously stored.

But while it is locked up in fossil fuels underground it is not in the atmosphere contributing to a greenhouse effect. Releasing it from underground and into the atmosphere will. I mean this is the basis of all the hoopla about fossil fuels and global warming that has been going on for the past 10 years. Where have you been?
 

the_recruit

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And while we're sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, what effect will this have on the plant kingdom, you know those crops we're dependent upon for silly things like sustenance?

Nothing. As you point out, the fuel will be burned and the CO2 will be returned to the atmosphere.
 

EnigmaO01

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And what happens when that fuel is burned to harvest the energy? Same thing that happens now when we burn oil, coal, gas? Why not just use for fuel the natural gas we have on hand in abundance already? Is the answer to produce more oil, coal, gas, but without the other components we use (and need) from those resources? From a barrel of oil we derive thousands of vital products that have nothing whatsoever to do with burning or hydrocarbon fuel.

And while we're sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, what effect will this have on the plant kingdom, you know those crops we're dependent upon for silly things like sustenance?


Didn't take long for a naysayer to show up. You probably pooh poohed the microwave and computers when they hit the scene.
 

Deuce

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And what happens when that fuel is burned to harvest the energy? Same thing that happens now when we burn oil, coal, gas? Why not just use for fuel the natural gas we have on hand in abundance already? Is the answer to produce more oil, coal, gas, but without the other components we use (and need) from those resources? From a barrel of oil we derive thousands of vital products that have nothing whatsoever to do with burning or hydrocarbon fuel.

And while we're sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, what effect will this have on the plant kingdom, you know those crops we're dependent upon for silly things like sustenance?

Um, because pulling it from the atmosphere means the energy source is carbon-neutral. You aren't going to decrease atmospheric CO2.

Jesus Christ. I mean your first sentence answers the question in your last sentence.
 

Deuce

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Have you ever worked in a greenhouse? If you had you'd know they have CO2 generators running.

CO2Gen1.jpg


Johnson CO2 Generator

And yes, this is the same as natural gas - it produces a hydrocarbon fuel (syngas). You're still going to have emissions burning this fuel. Btw, drilling for oil isn't introducing new CO2, neither is burning it for that matter. Burning it reintroduces CO2 that has been previously stored.

Yes, and that's the problem.
 

FieldTheorist

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jimbo

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But as brewerbob pointed out this will involve carbon that is already in the atmosphere right now.



But while it is locked up in fossil fuels underground it is not in the atmosphere contributing to a greenhouse effect. Releasing it from underground and into the atmosphere will. I mean this is the basis of all the hoopla about fossil fuels and global warming that has been going on for the past 10 years. Where have you been?

Don't we already have such a system? I think it's called a tree. Sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere, uses sunlight to convert the CO2 to O2 and carbon. We use the O2 and carbon, then convert it back to CO2, and life goes on.

I read a couple of years ago that Germany was experimenting with something similar as a means to store solar energy.

The fact that the researchers have filed a provisional patent tells me that the idea is either not very developed or there is nothing new and patentable at this point.
 

the_recruit

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Don't we already have such a system? I think it's called a tree. Sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere, uses sunlight to convert the CO2 to O2 and carbon. We use the O2 and carbon, then convert it back to CO2, and life goes on.

More or less. The article even describes the mechanism as an "artificial leaf" and that "the new device essentially does the work of plants".

But with a tree there are processing energy costs - cutting it down, transporting, chipping it up and converting to syngas (but not impossible; during WWII fuel shortages in europe vehicles were outfitted with wood gasifiers so they could run on wood chips). This is why fossil fuels are preferable to fresh biomass - nature has already done most of the prep work of converting the biomass into a homogeneous energy-dense fuel conducive to combustion. This device skips those steps and outputs syngas directly.
 
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