Skip to Content

CO2 to Fuel

With the help of catalyst.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have shown that solar energy, with the help of catalysts, may be able to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon monoxide, which can then be used to make synthetic fuels.

Here’s how it would work: sunlight passes through carbon dioxide dissolved in a solution and is absorbed by a semiconductor photocathode, which converts the photons into electrons. The resulting current splits the carbon dioxide, much the way electricity can split water into hydrogen and oxygen. But in this case, the splitting is aided by two catalysts. One, at the cathode, helps produce carbon monoxide. The anode is made of platinum, which catalyzes the production of oxygen.

The prototype cathode, made from silicon, needed supplemental electricity to split the carbon dioxide. But the UCSD group is now experimenting with a gallium phosphide version (above, with circular metal contacts) that could run on sunlight alone.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A view of clouds illuminated by sunlight
A view of clouds illuminated by sunlight

We can’t afford to stop solar geoengineering research

It is the wrong time to take this strategy for combating climate change off the table.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

ai learning to multitask concept
ai learning to multitask concept

Meta’s new learning algorithm can teach AI to multi-task

The single technique for teaching neural networks multiple skills is a step towards general-purpose AI.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.