A research team, including Caltech professor Sossina M. Haile and Swiss Institute of Energy Technology professor Aldo Steinfeld, developed a reactor which mimics plant life, turning the Sun's energy to make hydrocarbon fuel.
The reactor uses the solar energy and the metal ceria (a rare-earth metal) to break down water or carbon dioxide into hydrogen and oxygen.
The prototype of the reactor is still in its infant stages and extremely inefficient, harnessing only 0.7% to 0.8% of the solar energy it absorbs. The researchers are confident they can reach levels of around 20% which would make the device commercially viable.
SciTech - Latest Headlines - New Reactor Harnesses Sun's Energy Like Plants