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Unique recipe found in a method of producing fuel from air

Уникальный рецепт: найден способ получения топлива из воздуха Scientists have invented a new method of fuel production.

South Korean scientists have created a unique nanomaterial that allows you to turn carbon dioxide into methane using the energy of light, and published the “recipe” for production in the journal Nature Communications.

“Our catalyst is extremely difficult to compare with other types of such nanoparticles, since all such experiments were carried out in very different conditions. However, we can already say that he has a record of high level of activity and efficiency, and in some cases outperforms the competition by two to three orders of magnitude,” writes Hunjun sun from the Institute of KAIST in Daejeon.

In recent years, scientists are actively trying to find a way of turning atmospheric CO2 into biofuel and other useful substances. For example, in July last year, physicists from Chicago have created a solar cell which directly uses light energy to split CO2 and production of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, and in October their colleagues from the National laboratory in Oak ridge have created a catalyst that converts carbon dioxide into ethanol, normal alcohol.

All these catalysts and systems “transmutation” of the air in the alcohol can help not only solve the problem of providing humanity completely “green” fuel, but to find cheaper sources of raw materials for the chemical industry.

As noted by sung and colleagues, all such catalysts created in the last years, have two large disadvantages, not allowing them to apply their work speed is often very low, and faster catalysts are usually unstable and have to be cleaned after a few hours of use. In addition, they all have a fairly low efficiency.

Team Suna has created the catalyst, devoid of both problems, experimenting with nanoparticles of zinc oxide, the analogues of which can be found in the majority of today’s brands of sunscreen. Combining them with other nanomaterials of metal oxides, the scientists watched changes in their chemical and optical properties and tried to understand whether they can be used to accelerate certain reactions.

These experiments showed that a combination of nanoparticles of zinc oxide and cuprous oxide, a compound of one atom of oxygen and two atoms of copper unusually active absorbed CO2 molecules, splits and turns carbon dioxide to methane if they were in the light and under water.

As revealed subsequently, these nanoparticles were not destroyed and is not polluted during prolonged illumination by a powerful lamp, continuing to turn CO2 into methane and a very small number of molecules of carbon monoxide and hydrogen until then, until the supply of carbon dioxide exhausted, and continued to accelerate the reaction with the same rate after you enter the new portion of the “raw material”.

On current estimates, approximately 88% of carbon dioxide molecules converted to methane, is spent approximately 1.5% of the energy of light. That is another indicator, say the chemists, is at a record high.

While scientists don’t know why the catalyst from a relatively “simple” metals works faster and better than its more expensive counterparts made of platinum and titanium, but they suggest that this is due to an unusual combination of electrochemical properties of zinc, copper and similar water qualities, surrounding nanoparticles within the reactor.Further study of them, as I hope the Korean chemists will allow to increase the efficiency and make the nanoparticles more attractive for the creation of almost inexhaustible supplies of fuel, literally extracted from the air.

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