Syngas, a substance used in the manufacture of fuels, pharmaceuticals, plastics, fertilisers and more, is produced from hydrogen and carbon monoxide. However, a new artificial leaf can create the gas using only sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.
The device uses two light absorbers immersed in water: one acting as a catalyst to produce oxygen, with the other converting carbon dioxide and water into hydrogen and carbon monoxide.
The researchers, from Cambridge University in the UK, now hope to produce fuel using the gas.
“What we’d like to do next, instead of first making syngas and then converting it into liquid fuel, is to make the liquid fuel in one step,” said Professor Erwin Reisner. Petrochemical company OMV supported the research and hopes it can make its business more sustainable.
“The team’s fundamental research to produce syngas as the basis for liquid fuel in a carbon neutral way is groundbreaking,” said Michael-Dieter Ulbrich, an engineer and OMV Senior Adviser.