By showing how to take advantage of both the sun’s heat and light for capturing and splitting carbon dioxide, the STEP process is fundamentally capable of converting more solar energy than either photovoltaic or solar thermal processes alone. The experiments in this study showed that the technique could capture carbon dioxide and convert it into carbon with a solar efficiency from 34% to 50%, depending on the thermal component. While carbon could be stored, the production of carbon monoxide could later be used to synthesize jet, kerosene, and diesel fuels, with the help of hydrogen generated by STEP water splitting.
“We are exploring the STEP generation of synthetic jet fuel and synthetic diesel,” Licht said, “and in addition to carbon capture, we are developing STEP processes to generate the staples predicted in our original theory, such as a variety of metals and bleach."No doubt there are a lot of problems to be solved yet, and a serious decrease in atmospheric CO2 would in any case be a costly project even if and when they're solved. But for eco-True Believers, a process like this isn't even a potential solution but a threat, since it seems like it would take away the biggest opportunity they've yet seen to have a serious impact on "wasteful lifestyles", "the consumer society", etc. -- why, SUVs might proliferate like rabbits! So there's the test: if you think there's a rational basis to be concerned about carbon emissions -- and I do, for example -- then a process such as this and/or other extraction possibilities both known or yet to be developed should give you serious hope. If, on the other hand, your real concern is this quasi-religious moralizing about waste, and the concomitant desire to impose a personal ethos on everyone (everyone else, as a rule, as we can see from Al Gore's mansion), then you'll want to give serious effort to finding ways to debunk and otherwise undermine such a hope.