Published Date : May 31, 2016
In today’s world, a majority of the power demand is met by utilizing fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. Renewable energy sources such as solar energy and wind energy account for a mere 4% of the overall power mix. Efforts to reduce the adverse impact of greenhouse gases rely largely on the power sector that accounts for about 42% of all-energy-related carbon emissions. Solar fuel is the ideal way to provide unlimited and sustainable energy and power worldwide. Being utilized as a fuel source, sunlight is capable of converting solar energy into chemical energy consisting of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, oxygen, or methanol. Solar fuel can also be stored and utilized later according to requirements.
Plasma-Enhanced Solar Energy: A New Technique to Convert Carbon Dioxide into Sustainable Fuels
Extensive research activities are being carried out to develop solar fuels. Artificial photosynthesis and thermochemical reactions are implemented to convert solar energy into fuels. At the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Assistant Professor Juan Pablo Trelles is developing a new technique- “plasma-enhanced solar energy” to convert waste carbon dioxide released from industrial factories and power plants into high-value chemicals and sustainable fuels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the electric power sector in America emitted around 1,925 mn metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2015. Large quantities of carbon dioxide are emitted by power plants burning natural gas and coal. Converting even 1% of this gas into sustainable fuels can significantly support the efforts taken to reduce greenhouse gas emission and global warming. Trelles’s work has been recognized by the National Science Foundation. The organization has awarded him a grant worth over US$513,000 over a period of five years to support his research and development activities.