Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Sustainable Energy

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.

This story is part of our July/August 2007 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

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.

Blockchain is changing how the world does business, whether you’re ready or not. Learn from the experts at Business of Blockchain 2019.

Register now
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Print Subscription.
  • Print Subscription {! insider.prices.print_only !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six print issues per year plus The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Print magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.