Scientists have managed to reconvert carbon dioxide into an energy source.
The main reason behind the climate change crisis we are facing today is of course carbon dioxide. This is manufactured in various factories and by the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles on the roads.
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Things have come to a head since now the carbon dioxide has reached a level of supersaturation in the atmosphere. This spells trouble for humanity and much of life on the planet.
It is a source of great relief that plants manage to store up and use carbon dioxide. They manufacture sugars and energy from this otherwise deadly gas.
Now researchers have discovered a method of restoring carbon dioxide back to an energy source via utilizing copious amounts of sunlight. The basic hindrance in this was that carbon dioxide is chemically non-reactive and inert.
All by itself, carbon dioxide is difficult to convert into anything else. In order to transform it into a fuel, a catalyst was necessary. This compound would make carbon dioxide undergo a reaction with ease. Plants normally use an enzyme to convert carbon dioxide into sugars. This acts like a natural catalyst.
The researchers employed the services of tungsten diselenide. This was constructed in the form of nanoscale flakes which reacted easily and had a large surface area.
Plants convert carbon dioxide to sugar. The researchers converted carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a pollutant like carbon dioxide but it is far more reactive (not to mention dangerous).
The scientists have methods of converting carbon monoxide into methanol which is a fuel source. This is a simpler and easier way of creating methanol since to make it from carbon dioxide is a laborious task.
Although the reaction that converts carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide is different from reactions found in Nature, it is partially the same as is found in photosynthesis.
In photosynthesis, plants use water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to make their fuel. In this case, while the basic steps are the same, the results are a little different thanks to a few tweaks here and there.
In fact, the device that was used to create such circumstances was called the closest thing in our world to an artificial leaf. Photons are changed to negatively charged electrons which than become positively charged holes.
These than react with water molecules making protons and oxygen in return. Finally, these interact to produce carbon monoxide and water. Furthermore, a minimal amount of energy is lost in the procedure.
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The study titled, "Nanostructured transition metal dichalcogenide electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction in ionic liquid," got published in the journal Science.