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Old 07-28-2016, 04:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Kill two birds with one stone, Photosynthetic Artificial 'Leaf'

Mechanical and industrial engineering researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (my alma mater!) have engineered a game-changer; unique solar cells that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide into usable hydrocarbon fuel, syngas, using sunlight for the energy. The implications of scrubbing significant carbon dioxide and converting it in an energy-dense and portable fuel, solves the unsustainable one-way fossil fuels creating extra greenhouse gas and the possibly make dino-fuels obsolete. The artificial 'leaf' converts CO2 by using combinations of catalysts, nano-structured compounds called transition metal dichalcogenides — or TMDCs in an unique ionic liquid as the electrolyte inside a two compartment three-electrode electro-chemical cell. There are two silicon triple-junction photovoltaic cells; tungsten diselenide and ionic liquid co-catalyst system on the cathode side; and cobalt oxide in potassium phosphate electrolyte on the anode side. Carbon dioxide diffuse through the solar-activated membrane and free oxygen and hydrogen ions are produced. Besides massive 'Grand Earth Engineering' solar CO2 scrubbing farming, this could be used in Mars colonization and for other carbon-dioxide rich exo-atmospheres.


Breakthrough solar cell captures carbon dioxide and sunlight, produces burnable fuel


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Old 07-28-2016, 07:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 07-28-2016, 07:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 07-28-2016, 07:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Old 07-28-2016, 09:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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" Syngas can be burned directly, or converted into diesel or other hydrocarbon fuels."

Won't burning "syngas" just release carbon back into the atmosphere?
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 07-29-2016, 02:33 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks. That is interesting; I'd seen the headline and 'surfed' right past. It seems to be a combination of strategies — the transition metal dichalcogenides as catalysts
Quote:
In fact, he said, the new catalyst is 1,000 times faster than noble-metal catalysts—and about 20 times cheaper.
Read more at: Breakthrough solar cell captures carbon dioxide and sunlight, produces burnable fuel
having a reactor that has differing solar chemistries on the anode and cathode
Quote:
The UIC artificial leaf consists of two silicon triple-junction photovoltaic cells of 18 square centimeters to harvest light; the tungsten diselenide and ionic liquid co-catalyst system on the cathode side; and cobalt oxide in potassium phosphate electrolyte on the anode side.
Read more at: Breakthrough solar cell captures carbon dioxide and sunlight, produces burnable fuel
....and an engineering fix to a show-stopper
Quote:
"The active sites of the catalyst get poisoned and oxidized," Salehi-Khojin said. The breakthrough, he said, was to use an ionic fluid called ethyl-methyl-imidazolium tetrafluoroborate, mixed 50-50 with water.

"The combination of water and the ionic liquid makes a co-catalyst that preserves the catalyst's active sites under the harsh reduction reaction conditions," Salehi-Khojin said.
Read more at: Breakthrough solar cell captures carbon dioxide and sunlight, produces burnable fuel
So— good on them. They mention small-scale; I wonder if they are thinking about 3D printing cells the proportions of a Maple leaf. If they did they could use the fluttering of the leaf in it's Karmann vortex shedding to pump the liquid fuel around.

How do they interface the two electrolytes?

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