A Comprehensive Electrochemical Solution to Climate Change: STEP, the Solar Thermal Electrochemical Pressure Process for the Production of Societal Staples

Monday, 6 October 2014: 11:30
Sunrise, 2nd Floor, Mars 1-4 (Moon Palace Resort)
S. Licht (The George Washington University)
The solar thermal electrochemical pressure process is capable of the production of societal staples with little or no carbon footprint, and can directly capture & convert carbon dioxide from the air that can be stored as useful graphite. In STEP the efficient formation of metals, fuels, cement, chlorine, and carbon capture is driven by solar thermal heated endothermic electrolyses of concentrated reactants occurring at voltage below that of the room temperature energy stored in the products. As one example, CO2 is reduced to either fuels, or storable carbon, at solar efficiency higher than the best photovoltaics. This is due to a synergy of efficient solar thermal absorption and electrochemical conversion at high temperature and reactant concentration. CO2-free STEP iron production, from iron ore, occurs via Fe(III) in molten carbonate. Water is efficiently split to H2 by molten hydroxide electrolysis, and chlorine, sodium and magnesium from molten chlorides. STEP cement uses a novel molten electrochemistry for the production of calcium oxide (lime from limestone).1-7

The solar electrochemical generation of societal staples and fuels decreases society's dependence on grid-based electricity. A pathway is provided for the STEP decrease of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to pre-industrial age levels in 10 years.

Selected STEP references:

(1)     S. Licht, "STEP generation of energetic molecules: A solar chemical process to end anthropogenic global warming," J. Phys. Chem., C, 2009, 113, 16283-16292.

(2)     S. Licht, B. Wang, S. Ghosh, H. Ayub, D. Jiang, J. Ganley, "A New Solar Carbon Capture Process:  STEP Carbon  Capture," J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2010, 1, 2363-2368, with online 2 page supplement.

(3)     S. Licht, "Efficient Solar-Driven Synthesis, Carbon Capture, and Desalinization,  STEP: Electrochemical Production of Fuels, Metals, Bleach," Advanced Materials, 2011, 47, 5592-5612.

(4)     S. Licht, H. Wu, C. Hettige, B. Wang, J. Lau, J. Asercion, J. Stuart, " STEP Cement: solar thermal electrochemical production of CaO without CO2 emission " Chem. Comm., 2012, 48, 6019-6021, with online 20 page supplement.

(5)     B. Wang, Y. Hu, H. Wu, S. Licht, "STEP Pollutant to Solar Hydrogen: Solar driven thermal electrochemical wastewater treatment with synergetic production of hydrogen," Electrochemical Science Letters, 2013, 2, H34-H36.

(6)     B. Cui, S. Licht, ”Critical STEP advances for sustainable iron production,” Green Chemistry, 2013,  15(4), 881-884, with 16 page online supplementary information

(7)     S. Licht, B. Cui, B. Wang, ”STEP Carbon Capture: the barium advantage,” Journal of CO2 Utilization, 2013, 2, 58-63.