Learning from a recent global experiment on environment

Energy and environment researchers across the world are working to overcome two significant major challenges, i.e., energy demand and clean environment on the earth. These challenges can be solved by "Artificial Photosynthesis Technologies".

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Energy and environment researchers across the world are working to overcome two significant major challenges, i.e., energy demand and clean environment. Fossil fuels can increase the global air pollution due to the presence of carbon and nitrogen, producing CO2 and NO2. On the other side, recent studies [1-5] give a clear trend of low air pollution because of no road and air vehicle-transport circulation, temporary shutdown of petrochemical companies, oil refineries, industries and factories, unfortunately, due to the spread of highly contagious SARS-CoV-2. No doubt, this temporary lock-down lowered the air pollution (mainly NO2 and CO2) hence sharp decreases in global greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. Use of fossil fuels in transportation and industries generates GHGs. The carbon emission will ramp again when the COVID-19 pandemic is over [5].

All photos Credit: Pixabay

Another co-relation, GHGs also threaten the ozone layer. As we require this ozone layer to protect us from direct sunlight. In the near future, lowering GHGs could reduce the ozone hole [6] near the South Pole. Overall, fossil fuels increase the global air pollution and the world health organization (WHO) report [7] indicates that annual fatality rate (4.2 million) is high due to all types of air-pollution (in addition to other personal diseases) compared to the fatality rate (0.15 million) due to COVID-19. After SARS-CoV-2 has disappeared, there will be chance to observe the increased level of global air pollution again due to use of fossil fuels. Learning from this naturally occurring global experiment, there will be an urgent need to reduce air pollution by enabling renewable energy sources for production of solar driven carbonaceous fuels instead of using fossil fuels. Moving one step forward is required from each scientist to realize the “Artificial Photosynthesis Technologies” for minimizing air-pollution and saving the earth.

Artificial Photosynthesis Technologies include “Solar-to-chemical conversion for sustainable production of renewable hydrogen and carbonaceous fuel from CO2”. These solar energy conversion systems can help to overcome the challenges of energy demand and a clean environment. These challenges can be easily overcome by mainly “solar assisted practical water splitting system”, which can fulfill the energy demand (by production of solar H2) and provide a green environment (by releasing only O2 into atmosphere). Fossil fuels can be replaced by solar H2 fuel for fuel cell-hydrogen (FCH) based vehicles, as in FCH vehicles H2 can react with O2 and produce only H2O to the atmosphere [8]. Hence, solar “Hydrogen economy”[8] related research communities must focus to develop scalable technology to fulfill solar-to-chemical conversion systems as renewable sources for solar fuel production. Future of these "Artificial Photosynthesis Technologies" will help to fulfill the energy demand (by sustainable production of solar H2) and to reduce the air-pollution (by evolving O2) on earth .

 

References

[1].            Callaway E, Cyranoski D, Mallapaty S, Stoye E, Tollefson J. The coronavirus pandemic in five powerful charts. Nature 2020;579:482-3.

[2].            Patel K. Airborne nitrogen dioxide plummets over china. NASA Earth Observatory 2020.

[3].            Tollefson J. Climate vs coronavirus: Why massive stimulus plans could represent missed opportunities. Nature 2020.

[4].            Nasralla S, Volcovici V, Green M. Coronavirus could trigger biggest fall in carbon emissions since World War Two. Reuters Report-Sustainable Business 2020.

5.            Schiermeier Q. Why pollution is plummeting in some cities - but not others. Nature 2020.

[6].            Witze A. Rare ozone hole opens over Arctic - and it's big. Nature 2020.

[7].            WHO. Ambient (outdoor) air pollution. WHO report 2018.

[8].            Editor. Hydrogen to the rescue. Nature Materials 2018;17:565.

 


Go to the profile of Dharmesh Hansora

Dharmesh Hansora

Doctoral Researcher, UNIST

Dharmesh Hansora is a Ph.D. graduate student in ECOCAT laboratory at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea. He has contributed scientifically in publishing important research articles, review articles, book chapters and a book. He has also attended conferences and several research workshops. He has been active on scientific social media platforms including ResearchGate, ResearcherID, ORCID, SCOPUS, PUBLONS, Academia.edu, GoogleScholar, LinkedIN, Facebook and Twitter.

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