Scientists have come up with an innovative technology to trigger photosynthesis in synthetic material and in turn convert harmful greenhouse gases in to clean air.
University of Central Florida scientists have developed a new way to trigger a chemical reaction in a synthetic material called metal-organic frameworks (MOF) that breaks down carbon dioxide into harmless organic materials. This particular method is akin to artificial photosynthesis with the only major difference being that the process doesn’t produce food, but it produces solar fuel.
UCF Assistant Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo used titanium and added organic molecules that act as light-harvesting antennae. The antenna molecules, called N-alkyl-2-aminoterephthalates, College football semifinal can be designed to absorb specific colours of light when incorporated in the MOF. In this case he synchronized it for the colour blue.
The team then assembled a blue LED photoreactor to test out the hypothesis. Measured amounts of carbon dioxide were slowly fed into the photoreactor — a glowing blue cylinder that looks like a tanning bed — to see if the reaction would occur. The glowing blue light came from strips of LED lights inside the chamber of the cylinder and mimic the sun’s blue wavelength.
It worked and the chemical reaction transformed the CO2 into two reduced forms of carbon, formate and formamides (two kinds of solar fuel) and in the process cleaning the air.
Uribe-Romo intends to see if the other wavelengths of visible light may also trigger the reaction with adjustments to the synthetic material. If it works, the process could be a significant way to help reduce greenhouse gases.
Perhaps someday homeowners could purchase rooftop shingles made of the material, which would clean the air in their neighborhood while producing energy that could be used to power their homes.