New Clean Energy Source

By intensely focusing the sun's rays on a rare earth oxide, researchers have discovered a reactor that could produce fuel from water in an easily stored form.

The reactor hits ceric oxide with an intense blast of focused sun, which heats up the material enough that it starts to shed the oxygen from its lattice. The material then merrily strips the oxygen from either water or carbon dioxide if they're nearby, leaving hydrogen or carbon monoxide—which can be combined to form hydrocarbon fuels using further catalysts. Still in its early stages, the reactor demonstrates a sun-to-fuel efficiency of 0.7%-0.8%, but according to researchers these are "largely limited by the system scale and design rather than by chemistry."

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