As consumption rates for fossil fuels and other nonrenewable energy resources exceed the supply, researchers are investigating forms of alternative energy production. Both hydrogen fuel production and carbon monoxide production have gained significant attention for being possible substitutes for current energy sources.
Hydrogen is a clean-burning fuel, meaning it generates zero emissions and is less harmful to the environment compared to conventional fuels. One in-demand method for hydrogen fuel production is water-splitting. In addition to being an inexpensive, renewable resource, water can be used to produce hydrogen and oxygen without releasing any harmful greenhouse gases.
Although carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that binds to hemoglobin, it can combine with hydrogen and form carbon-based fuels. One process for carbon monoxide production is carbon dioxide splitting. Massive amounts of carbon dioxide are released into our atmosphere as emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Carbon dioxide splitting generates carbon monoxide by removing unwanted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Two research teams from North Carolina State University have successfully developed more efficient methods for water-splitting and carbon dioxide splitting. Regarding carbon dioxide splitting, iron-containing mixed oxide nanocomposites were successful in splitting the compound and capturing one oxygen atom; thus, carbon dioxide was reduced and carbon monoxide was produced. The process achieved over ninety-eight percent conversion, which was about seven times higher than solar-thermal carbon dioxide splitting processes. Additionally, the new process was carried out at significantly lower temperatures, making it economically feasible.
For water-splitting, researchers from another team formulated iron-doped barium manganese oxide particles. The new method splits water molecules (in the form of steam) and captures oxygen atoms, leaving behind hydrogen gas. The data generated from this study demonstrated a ninety percent conversion rate for water into hydrogen gas, which is a large percentage considering most techniques demonstrate only ten to twenty percent.
Both teams of researchers believe the improvements made in these processes represent advancements for alternative energy sources. Currently, they are working on furthering their research by formulating materials that are even more efficient, and possibly testing these processes on the industrial scale.
To read original carbon dioxide splitting study, click here.
To read original water-splitting study, click here.
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Edited by: Kaylynn Crawford, Karen Yung, and Shreya Singireddy