Carbon dioxide can be converted into car fuel
According to foreign media reports, researchers at Linköping University in Sweden are trying to use solar energy to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into fuel. Recent research results also indicate that it is possible to use carbon dioxide and water to selectively produce methane, carbon monoxide or formic acid using its technology.
Plants convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and high-energy sugars, which are used as “fuels” for growth and obtain energy from sunlight. Jianwu Sun of Linköping University and his colleagues are trying to simulate this reaction called “photosynthesis”, which uses this reaction to capture carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into chemical fuels such as methane, ethanol and methanol. At present, this method is still in the research stage, and the long-term goal of scientists is to convert solar energy into fuel efficiently.
Jianwu Sun, senior lecturer in the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology of Linkoping University: “By converting carbon dioxide into fuel with the help of solar energy, this technology may promote the development of renewable energy and reduce the impact of burning fossil fuels on the climate. .”
Graphene is one of the thinnest materials in existence. It is composed of a single layer of carbon atoms. It is elastic, flexible, and transparent to sunlight. It is a good electrical conductor. The combination of the above characteristics ensures the application potential of graphene in fields such as electronic equipment and biomedicine. But graphene itself is not suitable for the solar energy conversion applications that Linköping University researchers are seeking, so they combined graphene with semiconductors and cubic silicon carbide (3C-SiC). In addition, scientists at Linköping University have developed a world-leading method to grow graphene on cubic silicon carbide composed of carbon and silicon. When the silicon carbide is heated, the silicon will be vaporized, and the carbon atoms will remain and be reconstructed in the form of a graphene layer. Researchers have previously demonstrated that four graphene layers can be stacked together in a controlled manner.
Researchers combined graphene and cubic silicon carbide to develop a graphene-based photoelectrode that can maintain the ability of cubic silicon carbide to capture sunlight energy and create charge carriers. While graphene protects silicon carbide, it also serves as a conductive transparent layer.
The performance of this graphene-based technology is controlled by several factors, one of which is the quality of the interface between graphene and semiconductors. Scientists have carefully studied the characteristics of the interface and said that the graphene layer on the silicon carbide can be adjusted to control the performance of the graphene-based photoelectrode. Converting carbon dioxide in this way will be more efficient and at the same time improve the stability of its components.
The photoelectrode developed by the researchers can be combined with cathodes made of various metals such as copper, zinc or bismuth. By selecting the appropriate metal cathode, carbon dioxide and water can selectively form different compounds, such as methane, carbon monoxide and formic acid. Jianwu Sun said: “The most important thing is that we have proven that solar energy can be used to control the conversion of carbon dioxide into methane, carbon monoxide or formic acid.” In addition, methane can be used as a fuel for vehicles using gas fuels. The carbon monoxide and formic acid can be further processed into fuels for industrial use.