Solar reactor converts carbon dioxide and water into kerosene

Engineers from the Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich demonstrated a pilot system that can

produce fuel from sunlight andair. The device captures carbon dioxide and water from the atmosphere and uses solar energy to convert it into  liquid fuel. It is carbon neutral, because when it burns, it releases exactly as much carbon dioxide as the device removed from the air.

The system consists of three blocks - the firsttraps air, the second is responsible for solar energy, the third is for converting gas into liquid. The first section draws in ambient air and uses adsorption to remove carbon dioxide and water from it. They then go to the second block, where solar energy is used to trigger chemical reactions.

Parabolic concentrator focuses solarlight, creating a temperature of 1500 ° C. Inside the special reactor is a cerium oxide ceramic structure that absorbs oxygen from incoming CO₂ and water, producing hydrogen and carbon monoxide. They are converted into a substance that ultimately turns into a liquid hydrocarbon fuel such as kerosene or methanol.

To test the concept, researchersinstalled a small experimental 5 kW system on the roof of the building. Running seven hours a day in intermittent sunlight, the device produced 32 ml of methanol in a day. That's not much, but the scientists emphasize that the concept can be scaled up to industrial and commercial scales.

The study is published by the journal Nature.

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