Monday, May 16

Artificial leaves, a new weapon against global warming | Digital Trends Spanish

In recent decades CO2 emissions have multiplied. The consequences for the planet of this increase are devastating, as they contribute to global warming. For this reason, experts are working to find a possible solution.

Recently, iUniversity of Illinois engineers in Chicago have developed an artificial leaf capable of capturing carbon dioxide at rates 100 times higher than current systems and that is also capable of working in the real world. Its energy consumption is almost testimonial, since we are talking about only 0.4 kilojoules per hour, the consumption of a one-watt LED bulb.

The leaves capture carbon dioxide from diluted sources like the air or flue gases produced by coal-fired power plants and release it for use as fuel.

How do these artificial leaves work?

Scientists used inexpensive materials to include a water gradient with a dry side and a wet side. On the dry side, an organic solvent binds to carbon dioxide from the air to produce an electrically charged concentration of sodium bicarbonate on the leaf membrane.

As bicarbonate accumulates, these negatively charged ions cross the membrane into an aqueous solution. In this solution it dissolves the bicarbonate and the carbon dioxide that is released can be converted into fuel or other uses.

The researchers calculated the cost of this system at $145 per ton of carbon dioxide. This figure is within the recommendations of the Department of Energy of the United States (DOE, for its acronym in English), which estimates that the cost should not exceed $200 dollars per ton.

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