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Scientists produce fuel from thin air and sunlight

Headlines 11:35 04 Nov, 2021

Researchers have reported the first real-world demonstration of the whole process of creating fuel from sunlight and air

Scientists produce fuel from thin air and sunlight

Researchers have reported the first real-world demonstration of the whole process of creating fuel from sunlight and air.

Qazet.az informs, citing foreign media, that the findings may pave the way towards producing carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels, but much work would be needed to upscale the process.

Aviation and shipping currently contribute to around 8% of total carbon dioxide emissions attributed to human activity.

In the new study, Aldo Steinfeld of ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and colleagues describe a solar fuel system located on the roof of a laboratory that is made up of three basic units.

They are a direct air capture unit that extracts carbon dioxide and water from ambient air, the solar redox unit that uses solar energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen (syngas), and a gas-to-liquid unit that converts syngas to liquid hydrocarbons or methanol.

They report that it produced 32 milliliters of methanol in a typical seven-hour-day run, demonstrating the technical viability of a solar fuel production process. They estimate the production plants would need 45,000 km2, equivalent to around 0.5% of the area of the Sahara Desert.