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Ankita Katdare
Ankita Katdare • Apr 27, 2017

New Way To Turn Greenhouse Gases Into Clean Air And Produce Energy At The Same Time

Imagine a society where entire houses have rooftops made of a material that keeps the air clean and powers the homes. In short, a smarter, greener, cleaner world. It doesn't feel like such a distant dream now, thanks to breakthrough research work done by Chemistry Prof. Fernando Uribe-Romo and his students from the University of Central Florida (UCF). The team has made it possible to trigger artificial photosynthesis in a material called MOF, short for metal-organic frameworks, which when used in applications such as rooftops of homes or vehicles can convert harmful greenhouse gases into organic materials such as solar fuel.

It's been a challenge for scientists over the years to make visible light cause a chemical transformation. Now natural light that we receive from the Sun is made of a spectrum of wavelengths. Scientists have tried to use a range of materials to pick up the light for transforming CO2 into fuel. However, most of these materials such as iridium or platinum are rare and not available cheaply.

What makes the work of Prof. Uribe-Romo truly incredible is the fact that he made use of 'Titanium', a commonly found, nontoxic material and layered it with organic molecules that serve as light harvesters. These molecules are designed to absorb only specific colors of light. In this case, the color blue.

To test their hypothesis, the team built a photoreactor that would take CO2 as input and convert it into two forms of carbon - formate and formamides which are essentially two kinds of solar fuels. Now they aim to further enhance their approach so that they can convert large amounts of greenhouse gases into usable green fuels.

Check out a video demonstration from the University:

Source: University of Central Florida

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