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Making Fuel From Natural Sources: Sun, Water, Carbon Dioxide, and Nanotechnology

9 February 2009 No Comment

Scientists are working harder than ever to see if they too can create fuel from the sun. The trees do it so why can’t we? The world needs to be a little greener so if we could get natural sources of fuel from the sun then it could reduce our carbon foot print.

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Scientist from the Pennsylvania state university has found some great possibilities in which this could be done. They have discovered a way to generate hydro carbons 20 times faster than before. They used titanium oxide the same ingredient we use in extremely tough paper. However the titanium dioxide comes in the form of nano tubes. They will measure a tiny 135 nanometers width and only a tenth of a millimeter long. Once formed they went on to add nitrogen, copper and platinum nano particles onto the surface.

Usually ultra violet light would be used to activate the catalyst but because of the nitrogen and copper that was added to the nana tubes they may have moved the spectrum to longer wavelengths of visible light. The copper and the platinum that were included would have moved the spectrum to a different wave length and this would have sped up the last few stages of the process.

Unfortunately the researchers aren’t fully aware of why this process works. Their explanation is they think when the sunlight is in contact with the nano tubes it can then split water into two compounds which are hydroxide radicals and hydrogen ions. The ions would then join to give hydrogen gas. They are also unsure whether the carbon dioxide actually splits to go on to form oxygen and carbon monoxide if so this would then react with the hydrogen gas to form methane and water.

The scientists guess that his type of technology could make up around 500 liters of methane within an 8 hour period. Who knows if they are given the facilities to continue with their studies they could possibly make a difference.

If only we could work out how to re create photosynthesis like the trees and plant then we could be on to something big.

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