Japan economic news website recently reported that Mitsubishi Chemical, Toyota Motor and the University of Tokyo plan to carry out large-scale empirical research in 2030 to test the new technology of using sunlight and carbon dioxide to make plastic raw materials - artificial photosynthesis technology. The main principle is to produce plastic raw materials by reacting hydrogen decomposed from water with carbon dioxide. Since no carbon dioxide is produced in the process, this technology helps to achieve the goal of decarbonization. Compared with plastic raw materials made from fossil fuels, it has lower cost and stronger competitiveness. Researchers strive to realize the commercial application of this technology by 2040.
The comprehensive research and development institution of new energy industry technology has decided to invest about 30 billion yen to assist the technology in the next 10 years. The "technical research group of artificial photosynthesis chemistry project" established by Mitsubishi Chemical, Inpex, Mitsui chemical and other enterprises and the University of Tokyo will become the research subjects.
The researchers will inject water on a panel covered with thin sheets of photocatalyst that can decompose water into hydrogen and oxygen, and irradiate it with sunlight to produce hydrogen.
It is estimated that by 2030, the manufacturing cost of hydrogen will be reduced to 240 yen per kilogram, which is equivalent to extracting hydrogen from natural gas. It will be further reduced to less than 170 yen in 2050. At the same time, the efficiency of the reaction between hydrogen and carbon dioxide will also be improved. Once the experiment is successful, Japan will realize the localization of plastic raw materials and no longer rely on imported oil and natural gas.