You’ve heard it in the news and you may have even felt it in the air: 2015 was the hottest year since the 19th century. Greenhouse gas levels were the highest on record, as were sea surface temperatures and the global sea level. The ever increasing amount of greenhouse gases making their way into our atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide, is making an unfortunate impact on our planet.
But scientists are coming up with ways to capture CO2 and turn it into something that won’t warm the globe, like rock. Or, in this latest case: a burnable fuel.
The University of Illinois at Chicago and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have designed an artificial leaf that mimics the photosynthetic properties of the greenery decorating our real trees. This artificial leaf soaks up CO2 just like a regular leaf does, but instead of turning it into oxygen to pump back out into the atmosphere, the manufactured leaf actually turns the CO2 into another greenhouse gas: carbon monoxide.
Now the obvious question here is, why are we taking a greenhouse gas and turning it into another one? It’s because science has already figured out how to turn carbon monoxide into a burnable fuel. So this new leaf harvests CO2 from the atmosphere, and at a much lower cost than other innovations that purport to scrub the skies. (more…)