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Sunlight in Your Tank—Right Away

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Science  18 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6058, pp. 927
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6058.927

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Summary

Using sunlight to split water and generate hydrogen doesn't make the most useful chemical fuel. To use hydrogen on a large scale, societies would have to develop a new infrastructure to store, transport, and distribute the energy carrier. With that limitation in mind, some researchers are looking to use artificial photosynthesis to generate hydrocarbon fuels like those we already burn. Their goal is essentially to run combustion in reverse, starting with carbon dioxide and water and using the energy in sunlight to knit the chemical bonds needed to make hydrocarbons, such as gaseous methane and liquid methanol.