Using sunlight to make fuel from CO2

From Wired.com – Researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico are using sunlight to recycle CO2 and produce fuels like methanol or gasoline.

Researchers say that the technology used in the Sunlight to Petrol (S2P) project already works and can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, the researchers also say that large-scale implementation of the S2P project could be a decade or more away.

S2P consists of a solar reactor called the Counter-Rotating Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (CR5) that divides carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen. Sunlight heats up the CR5, heating its cobalt ferrite rings to about 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, the rings release oxygen. When the rings cool slightly (down to 2,000 F), they’re exposed to CO2. At that point, the rings grab back the missing oxygen from the CO2 and changes it into carbon monoxide, which is a building block for making hydrocarbons. The cycle can then start again. Since fuels like methanol and gasoline are different combinations of hydrogen and carbon, the researchers feel that they could be synthesized from the output of the CR5.

The Sunlight to Petrol team expects to field a prototype this April.

Check out the full article here.

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