Monday 27 November 2017

Artificial Photosynthesis Gets Big Boost From New Catalyst Developed

A step Closer to Artificial Photosynthesis

We all know about the continuing threat of global warming. Global warming is caused by many gases in the air but one of the most important concerns in the world is about carbon emissions. As carbon emissions come from burning of fossil fuel, which gives us our energy, there are undoubtedly many steps taken by researchers worldwide to look for alternate sources of renewable energy.

One such attempt is being made by researchers at the University of Toronto. They are trying to replicate the photosynthesis process used by plants, in order to create a renewable source of energy. While there are many other renewable sources of energy out there such as wind, water and solar energy all these can be expensive. So researchers at the University are trying to use artificial photosynthesis to create an alternate source of energy.

What is meant by Artificial Photosynthesis?

So we all know that plants get their energy by using the sun’s rays to convert carbon dioxide and water into their food. So the scientists at the University of Toronto are trying to do just by using artificial photosynthesis.

In plants, water is broken down into protons and oxygen gas while with carbon dioxide; it is broken down into carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is what is actually needed, which is then through an industrial process known as Fischer-Tropsch synthesis converted to hydro carbon fuels which will give us our energy source.

Problems encountered in Artificial Synthesis:

While breaking down water and carbon dioxide into its respective components, researchers encountered problems with their catalysts. The process of breaking down the components required in artificial photosynthesis, involves two reactions, while the first reaction uses high levels of PH the second reaction uses neutral PH levels.

This inconsistency in replicating artificial photosynthesis poses a problem because the movement of particles between reactions consumes a lot of energy. Therefore the artificial photosynthesis process is not as efficient as it could be.

Overcoming problems in artificial photosynthesis:

In order to bring in more efficiency into the artificial synthesis process, researchers have developed a new catalyst for the initial reaction. Initially water was split into protons and oxygen but this reaction involved high PH levels which made the artificial photosynthesis process inefficient.

But now, researchers are using a new catalyst which will use a neutral PH level in the artificial photosynthesis process, just as in the second reaction. This discovery now means that energy is not lost by moving particles through both reactions.

Benefits of the Catalyst in Artificial photosynthesis:

The new catalyst which is made of nickel, cobalt, iron and phosphorous, consumes less energy in the artificial photosynthesis process and when combined with the second reaction, the overall energy consumption is brought down.

The elements used in making the catalyst are not only cheap but also safe. It can even be made at room temperatures using inexpensive equipment. This makes the overall artificial photosynthesis process not only inexpensive to replicate but also increases the efficiency of the system.

While testing the catalyst, it showed stability for all of the 100 hours that it was tested.

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