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New Solar Cell Produces Burnable Fuel

JackSawyer MA, United States 0 Ratings 23 Discussions 0 Group posts

Posted by: JackSawyer // Student

A new solar cell breakthrough at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has the potential to expedite our adoption of solar significantly as it fixes a serious shortcoming that plagues current cells. Current solar cells convert sunlight into electricity and then store this energy in batteries, battery innovations have been few and far between and, as a result, have hindered solar’s growth as the two seemed to be contingent on the other - until now. Researchers at UIC have created a solar cell that uses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into usable hydrocarbon fuel. According to Amin Salehi-Khojin, the senior authority on the study, a notable difference in this solar cell is that it “is not photovoltaic - it’s photosynthetic” (Burton). What this means is that this technology acts more like a plant, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting into a useable fuel.

By producing a burnable fuel that can be converted into diesel or other hydrocarbon fuels, the new cell is able to produce energy without requiring a battery. Furthermore, the researchers believe the technology can be used on both small and large scale applications. It could turned into a large solar farm or implemented in homes. By taking in carbon to create sustainable energy, the one technology is able to solve two problems that go hand in hand - it takes in the carbon that is warming our planet and in turn creates a sustainable source of energy. Last month I did a post on the bionic leaf that was created at Harvard. It did a similar process to this technology, and although the two may be very similar, the fact that researchers are creating new ways to produce this photosynthetic technology means that it will only spur further innovation in both the technology’s function and its cost.

I think the next big step for this technology is to make it into a product that can be brought to the market at an affordable price, if this were to happen, we could see it replace the current photovoltaic standard. What do you think about this new solar process? Do you see it coming to the market?

Burton, Bill. "Breakthrough Solar Cell Captures CO2 and Sunlight, Produces Burnable Fuel."UIC News Center. UIC, 28 July 2016. Web. 01 Aug. 2016. <https://news.uic.edu/breakthrough-solar-cell-captures-co2-and-sunlight-produces-burnable-fuel>.

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