Researchers came up with an amazing project which implies producing energy and protecting the environment at the same time. They discovered a way in which they could start a process of artificial photosynthesis. This process would convert greenhouse gases into breathable air and, at the same time, create energy.
Creating solar fuels through artificial photosynthesis
The one who came up with this idea is scientist Fernando Uribe-Romo, from Florida, and a team of students. They took metal-organic frameworks (MOF), a synthetic material, and put it through some chemical reactions which ended up breaking down the carbon dioxide in the material into organic particles.
Thus, they triggered artificial photosynthesis. What happened in this material resembled the process during which plants turn carbon dioxide and light into food. However, artificial photosynthesis did not produce organic food, but two different substances.
These resulting substances actually represent solar fuels called formate and formamides. While creating them, the scientists also used some other substances, including titanium and other organic materials, which use light to harvest more. These other organic substances used are known as N-alkyl-2-aminoterephthalates.
The process absorbs light and produces more energy
These materials, when introduced in the MOF, can absorb light. Then, they can start multiplying it, thus creating energy. The entire artificial photosynthesis process was possible using the light from a photoreactor, which looked like a cylinder using blue LED lights.
Initially, the team used this photoreactor to see if artificial photosynthesis is possible. They introduced small concentrations of carbon dioxide into the mechanism to see if the expected chemical reaction occurred, and in which conditions it occurred.
The lamps which produced blue LED light were spread throughout the entire surface of the cylinder. Their purpose was to act as sunlight. More precisely, they were supposed to provide a replacement for the blue wavelength in the sunlight.
In the end, the scientists discovered that the artificial photosynthesis process was possible. In other words, they were able to produce the two aforementioned solar fuels. Besides the energy, it could also provide clean breathable air. The scientists are excited about their new discovery. Now, they can continue producing energy and clean air in an environmentally friendly method. Uribe-Romo declared:
“The goal is to continue to fine-tune the approach so we can create greater amounts of reduced carbon so it is more efficient.”
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