Researchers drive artificial photosynthesis energy conversion rate higher

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BEIJING, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers have developed an artificial photosynthetic system with solar-to-fuel conversion efficiency in excess of 20 percent, China Science Daily reported Thursday.

Plants transform solar energy into potential energy through photosynthesis and drive a series of biochemical reactions. Carbon dioxide and water are then converted into oxygen and energy carriers containing carbon.

Artificial photosynthetic systems store solar energy in chemical fuels via carbon dioxide reduction or renewable hydrogen from water splitting, according to a recently published research article in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

But natural photosynthesis produces extremely low solar-chemical energy conversion efficiency, while artificial photosynthesis can only realize conversion efficiency of no more than 18 percent, said the newspaper.

The carbon dioxide-reducing solar-to-fuel efficiency was relatively moderate even using the most active gold-based electrocatalyst, said the article.

The researchers from the ShanghaiTech University School of Physical Science and Technology reported a strategy based on a monolithic nanoporous silver-based membrane electrocatalyst to increase the density of active sites while breaking the three-phase diffusional-limit length of previous membrane electrodes, improving the effective thickness of the catalyst layer from tens of nanometers to several micrometers without any polymer additive.

The monolithic nanoporous silver-based membrane electrocatalyst showed solar-chemical energy conversion efficiency of more than 20 percent and surpassed other methods.

The electrocatalyst was demonstrated to have stable performance in a 28-hour experiment. Enditem

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