Feature

Tailpipe to tank

Science  11 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6253, pp. 1158-1160
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6253.1158

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Summary

Plants make their living by using the energy in sunlight to combine carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and water into the sugars they need to grow. But they work slowly, converting only about 1% of the energy in sunlight to chemical energy. Chemists are striving to do better. Their hope is to essentially run combustion in reverse and remove CO2 from the atmosphere and combine it with water to make liquid fuels that are the mainstay of the world's transportation system. That would provide society with a source of fuels made from renewable energy. Such renewable fuels can't yet be made as cheaply as gasoline refined from oil. But progress is swift and the spread of conventional renewable electricity sources, such as solar and wind power, may help lower costs further.