Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a solar-powered reactor that can simultaneously convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and plastics into useful products.
In tests, CO2 was transformed into syngas, which is a building block for sustainable liquid fuels, and plastic bottles were turned into glycolic acid, the university explained on Monday.
The integrated reactor has separate compartments for greenhouse gases and for plastic, and uses a light absorber based on perovskite.
“A solar-driven technology that could help to address plastic pollution and greenhouse gases at the same time could be a game-changer in the development of a circular economy,” said Subhajit Bhattacharjee, co-first author of the paper.
“Generally, CO2 conversion requires a lot of energy, but with our system, basically you just shine a light at it, and it starts converting harmful products into something useful and sustainable,” commented co-first author Motiar Rahaman. “Prior to this system, we didn’t have anything that could make high-value products selectively and efficiently,” added Rahaman.
Catalyst are integrated into the light absorber and changing them can change the end product. The researchers expect that in this way the system could be tuned to make much more complex products in future.
Choose your newsletter by Renewables Now. Join for free!