New Solar Fuel

Solar device that works like plants

New Solar Fuel - Solar device that works like plants

A prototype solar device has recently been unveiled in Science, which uses aspects of plant life to generate the sun’s energy into power. The machine was developed by researchers in the U.S. and Switzerland and uses a quartz window and cavity to concentrate sunlight into a cylinder lined with cerium oxide. The abundant metal oxide, also called ceria, helps break down carbon dioxide or water into fuels that can be stored and transported. After being pumped into the cylinder, the ceria rapidly strips oxygen from the carbon dioxide or water to create hydrogen or carbon monoxide. The production could be used to power cells in cars, or create other types of fuel. While the device is a major breakthrough in terms of solar power, the prototype still needs many refinements, especially in regards to efficiency before it will hit the market. “The chemistry of the material is really well suited to this process,” states Professor Sossina Haile of the California Institute of Technology. She acknowledges however, that the fate of many solar power projects is dependent on state adoption of a low-carbon policy. “It’s very much tied to policy. If we had a carbon policy, something like this would move forward a lot more quickly.”

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