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One-Step Method to Create Fuel From CO2 and Water Developed

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Combustion is a chemical reaction that will produce carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, and energy from a hydrocarbon fuel and oxygen. Because of the energy of the bonds in CO2 and water, it is a fairly easy reaction to cause and very difficult to reverse, but not impossible. Several methods have been devised to recreate hydrocarbon fuels from CO2 and water, and now researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a simple, one-step process that could have significant potential.

This new process uses concentrated light, heat, and high pressures to produce renewable hydrocarbons from the waste products of combustion. The researchers used titanium dioxide as a hybrid photochemical and thermochemical catalyst for the reaction and envision parabolic mirrors being used to concentrate Sunlight onto it. This light will provide both the heat and photo-excitation needed for the reaction, and in fact any excess heat could also be used for other processes at a solar fuels facility, such as separating products and purifying water. The chemical reactor operates at 180-200 ÂșC and at pressures as high as six atmospheres.

As this method produces the hydrocarbons we use as fuels in cars, trucks, and planes it can use current fuel distribution systems, unlike gaseous-hydrogen and battery technologies. The researchers' next step is to search for a better catalyst that can work with the entire solar spectrum, as titanium dioxide only absorb part of visible light.

Source: University of Texas at Arlington

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