Powered only by sunlight, a new device converts carbon dioxide and water to liquid fuels that could be directly used in car engines.
The device, presented in the journal Nature Energy, is the latest evolution of an artificial leaf. Researchers have been working for years on such systems that mimic photosynthesis to sustainably produce fuels at low cost. Previous artificial leaves produced simple products like carbon monoxide and hydrogen. But the new one takes an important step forward by making energy-dense ethanol and propanol fuels.
They say that currently it is not very efficient. With photovoltaic cell being mature and with excellent efficiency the artificial leaves have a strong competitor. The advantage the leaves have is on the storage side of things.
The fuel releases CO2 when burned. But because the leaves originally pulled the carbon from the air, the fuel will be carbon neutral. Technically, it will not be a fossil fuel.
This will be interesting to watch.
I love living in the future.