UC-San Diego chemists split carbon dioxide with sunlight

There are many pilot projects going on right now with carbon capture and sequestration at power plants and other facilities that are burning fossil fuels. Capturing the carbon dioxide is probably the more straightforward part of that equation. The process of storing the carbon dioxide is can be more problematic.
Chemists at University of California at San Diego have come up with an alternative use for the captured CO2. Rather than storing it underground they want to split off one of the oxygen atoms to produces carbon monoxide and oxygen. The CO is an important feedstock for many chemical processes such as producing detergents and plastics and is usually produced from natural gas. Prof. Clifford Kubiak and grad student Aaron Sathrum have demonstrated a semiconductor catalyst device that uses solar power to split the CO2.

This has multiple advantages because it eliminates the CO2 from the atmosphere and provides the CO that is needed for other processes without consuming additional fossil fuels. More development is needed on the device to improve the efficiency, but the concept takes a novel approach to dealing with the problem of what to do with the carbon dioxide we produce.

[Source: UCSD News]

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