Tokyo: Japanese technology giant Panasonic has developed an electronic material for the first time for artificial photosynthesis with an efficiency higher than plants, the Nikkei daily reported Monday.
The material developed by Panasonic is capable of producing methane and ethanol from carbon dioxide with the highest efficiency achieved so far.
The Japanese company, which will start field work in 2020, expects to find the use of these fuels in power generation and transportation, such as automobiles.
In 2009, Panasonic started research to develop a material capable of artificially imitating plant photosynthesis that converts carbon dioxide and water into chemical energy using sunlight.
Plants have an efficiency of converting the gas of around 0.2 percent, while the material developed by the Osaka-based company has surpassed this level for the first time and has achieved 0.3 percent, according to Nikkei.
The material, which could reach an efficiency of 1 percent for its commercial purpose, is based on a semiconductor of gallium nitride, a substance that emits light, mixed with indium.
Solar energy, water and carbon dioxide could be converted into methane and ethanol by using copper as a catalyst.
Panasonic is considering building pilot plants, to calculate costs and marketing possibilities, near garbage incinerators and other facilities that emit large amount of carbon dioxide.