Researchers create model to extract fuel from sunlight

Researchers are increasingly looking out for options in order to curb down the alarming effects of the global climate. Team of scientists at the ASU’s Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery has hence designed measures to secure reliable sources such as coal, gas and oil in order to save the increasingly depleting quality of the ocean, the air and the land.

The team has come up with technologies which use a combination of light-gathering semi-conductors, in addition to other catalytic materials which can create chemical reactions in order to produce clean fuel.

Furthermore, the current study also investigates the interaction of primary components of such devices, in addition to defining the theoretical framework which explains the fuel-forming reactions. Through this method, scientists could thus enhance the efficiency, along with the performance of the hybrid technologies. This further also brought the technologies closer to commercial viability.


Reports suggest it is the production of hydrogen, along with the reduced forms of carbon that will further supersede the sources of fossil fuels, in comparison to a wide array of carbon commodities, which include plastics, fuels and other building materials.


“In this particular work we’ve been developing systems that integrate light capture and conversion technologies with chemical-based energy storage strategies. That’s where catalysis becomes extremely important. It’s the chemistry of controlling both the selectivity of reactions and the overall energy requirements for driving those transformations,” commented Gary Moore, assistant professor in ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences and the lead author of the study.


The study suggests that the sunlight is one of the most attractive sources for the production of carbon-neutral and sustainable energy production. The usage of solar cells, along with photovoltaic devices helps in gathering sunlight and then transforming energy into electricity.  According to Gary Moore, the access to solar power by means of photovoltaics is not sufficient.


Furthermore, sunlight can also be used to generate energy-rich chemicals. Through the recent study, scientists examined the key variables which govern the capability of chemical reactions in order to create fuel with the help of several artificial devices.


The team has designed a model which controls the enzyme behavior, also known as Michaelis-Menten kinetics, thus describing the link between enzymatic reaction rates and the method in which the reaction takes place, for instance the substrate.


Further study will elaborate the use of solar-to-fuels solutions for prime time technologies, in addition to making them sustainable, affordable, efficient and stable.