PerspectiveEnergy Storage

Chemical storage of renewable energy

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Science  18 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6390, pp. 707-708
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7918

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Summary

The conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) into fuels and chemicals using renewable energy is a potential pathway to mitigate increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and acidification of the oceans (1). In a process that is essentially the reverse of combustion and is analogous to photosynthesis, CO2 can be electrochemically reduced to hydrocarbons by using renewable power sources such as wind and solar (2). This process would not compete with direct use of renewable energy as electricity, as the objective is to store excess energy for later use. On page 783 of this issue, Dinh et al. (3) show that ethylene can be generated selectively via electrochemical CO2 reduction at rates that could yield a technologically feasible process.