While the CO 2 -absorbent plates are currently small, Professor Huang says that the end goal is to create large panels, similar to solar panels, that can be used by industry to absorb and convert large volumes of CO 2 . Eventually the technology could be used by power stations to capture emissions from burning fossil fuels, which along with transport, are recognised by scientists as the main cause of global warming, contributing up to 65 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers say that, in contrast to carbon capture and storage, carbon conversion could be financially viable as it would allow for the generation of industrial quantities of materials, such as methanol, which is a useful material for production of fuels and other chemicals.
ARTIFICIAL LEAVES TO ABSORB CO2
A team of researchers including ARC-supported Professor Jun Huang from The University of Sydney’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is developing a carbon capture method that aims to go one step beyond storage, instead converting and recycling carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) into raw materials that can be used to create fuels and chemicals. The team built microplates of carbon, layered with carbon quantum dots with tiny pores that absorb CO 2 and water, in order to simulate the natural process of photosynthesis. Once carbon dioxide and water are absorbed, a chemical process occurs that combines both compounds and turns them into hydrocarbon, an organic compound that can be used for fuels, pharmaceuticals, agrichemicals, clothing, and construction.
“DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM LEAVES AND PLANTS, WE HAVE DEVELOPED AN ARTIFICIAL PHOTOSYNTHESIS METHOD,” SAYS PROFESSOR HUANG.
Plants absorb carbon dioxide and 'breathe' out oxygen. Credit: Luisa Low/University of Sydney.
DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES
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