August 28, 2016 at 10:59 pm

U of T Scientists Discover A Method Of Converting Carbon Dioxide To Fuel

Carbon Dioxide

 Converting greenhouse gas emissions into energy-rich fuel using nano silicon

Speakers corner

"A chemistry solution to climate change requires a material that is a highly active and selective catalyst to enable the conversion of carbon dioxide to fuel. It also needs to be made of elements that are low cost, non-toxic and readily available,"

Geoffrey Ozin, chemistry professor at U of T's Faculty of Arts & Science, the Canada Research Chair in Materials Chemistry, and lead of U of T's Solar Fuels Research Cluster.

  Every year we inject around thirty tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and U of T Scientists  have devised a way to convert all that carbon dioxide into fuel.  They have developed a method to use silicon in their process of making the fuel.  Silicon is the second most abundant element on the earth's crust, and combined with its relativity inexpensive cost to manufacture, may make it practical.   

 The U of T Team of scientists in an article first published in Nature Communications on August 23, believe that this new process will help convert and store solar energy in the form of chemical energy.  Presently the other methods of doing this are not practical enough for manufacture and usage, hopefully this new method will bridge that gap.   It all depends on the stability and scalability, of the different type of catalyst being used, and it would be interesting to see if this is cost effective.

 The scientists state that they have found a way to utilize surface hydride functionalized silicon nanocrystals to both reduce the amount of co2 in the atmosphere and generate electricity with the only byproduct being carbon monoxide.  "Herein we document the ability of surface hydride functionalized silicon nanocrystals, denoted ncSi:H, to selectively reduce gaseous CO2 to CO using the heat and light from the sun" We would Imagine that they would then capture the carbon monoxide, and use that as well in products like Syngas. The possible outcome being, energy without harmful emissions.

 The interesting aspect is this process uses common and inexpensive materials, whereas the other known methods use " rare and expensive elements" making them less practical.  As well as reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, due to the unique surface properties of the substance  "power of surface hydride to chemically reduce CO2 to CO" Essentially,  killing two birds with one stone.

 The U of T Solar Fuels Research Cluster is working on finding ways to enhance and maximize the generating electricity capacity in the solar field.   Their stated goal is to demonstrate new technology, and if successful, a pilot solar refinery.

To read the complete article first published in Nature Communications click HERE

The U of T Team Consists of

Wei Sun, Chenxi Qian, Le He, Kulbir Kaur Ghuman, Annabelle P. Y. Wong, Jia Jia, Abdinoor A. Jelle, Paul G. O’Brien, Laura M. Reyes, Thomas E. Wood, Amr S. Helmy, Charles A. Mims, Chandra Veer Singh & Geoffrey A. Ozin