A research team from Sandia National Laboratories intends to use concentrated solar energy to chemically “re-engerize” CO2 into carbon monoxide to produce liquid fuel.
Expected to be completed early next year, the team has developed a prototype that they fully anticipate to successfully break down carbon dioxide in 2 steps.
Here is where it gets technical: The prototype called the Counter Rotating Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (otherwise called CR5), is designed to break the carbon-oxygen bond in carbon dioxide to form carbon monoxide and oxygen. The carbon monoxide would make hydrogen or be a building block to make a liquid combustible fuel or “Liquid Solar Fuel”, such as gasoline, methanol, diesel and jet fuel - all produced using solar energy. The first step would be to capture CO2 from concentrated sources like power plants, smokestacks and breweries.
Excitingly, the device could reduce fossil fuels in the atmosphere. The invention holds some promise in recycling carbon dioxide into fuels, but it’s probably 15 to 20 years away from being on the market. The research has received funding from Sandia’s Internal Laboratory Directory Research and Development (LDRD) and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.