Since 2009, Dr. Jane Davidson's team has been investigating using solar energy to produce liquid fuels (see 12/20/10 post). The team and its research are continuing to gain momentum via a feature article and accompanying online interactive tool in the May 2011 of Scientific American. The article, 7 Radical Energy Solutions, features seven energy alternatives in the works at various labs throughout the country. One of the seven, Solar Gasoline, focuses on the work being done by Davidson's team. In this case, the energy is produced from one of Earth's most abundant but underused resource: the sun. More energy in the form of sunlight reaches the Earth in an hour than the entire globe uses in one year. Tapping this energy for cost-effective liquid fuels would be a tremendous leap in renewable energy solutions and would enable wider use of solar energy in fuel cells, for electricity on-demand and for transportation purposes
The liquid fuel, a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide and termed syngas, is produced by concentrating sunlight and using the heat to produce a chemical reaction, which in turn produces liquid fuel. There are still some hurdles to overcome, such as cost and finding more durable materials for the reactor. But considering how far Davidson's team and the technology have come thus far, the future is bright for Solar Gasoline.
Photo: Scientific American.
Scientific American article by David Biello.