No, you didn’t misread the headline. At a time when scientists are giving birth to solar-powered robots, trash-eating raccoons are being chased away from houses by solar animal repellers and surfers in SoCal are catching swells on solar-powered surfboards, this MAY be the strangest breakthrough of them all… MAYBE.
First understand, we’re not exactly talking about setting the oven to 350° and finding freshly baked solar cells in your kitchen 20 minutes later. Rather, we’re referring to the use ofceria — the main metal oxide responsible for the self cleaning oven.Researchers at the California Institute of Technology say they are building a reactor that can turn carbon dioxide and water into fuel by using solar energy.
The California researchers claim the entire thing is based on the reaction of ceria. When the oven-cleaning metalreaches ridiculously high temperatures, it releases oxygen. When itcools down, it absorbs the oxygen. Can you guess how they made thiswork?
The researchers built a two-foot oven,lined it with ceria, and heated the metal with the sun’s rays. Now theceria is releasing oxygen. To cool the metal, the researchers say youcan either add water or carbon dioxide into the reactor-oven to removeoxygen. What’s left? Hydrogen! Now we have the power for the fuel cells.
Clearly, the researchers have a loooong way to go. But it’s kinda crazy to think about: If it does work, a solarreactor has been hiding in our kitchens this entire time!