New artificial leaf creates fuel using CO2, sunlight

Washington: Scientists have developed “artificial leaves” – potentially game-changing solar cells that cheaply and efficiently convert atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel using sunlight.

Unlike conventional solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity that must be stored in heavy batteries, the new device essentially does the work of plants, converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuel, solving two crucial problems at once.

A solar farm of such “artificial leaves” could remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and produce energy-dense fuel efficiently.

“The new solar cell is not photovoltaic – it’s photosynthetic,” said Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor at University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight,” he said.

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