I noticed that they didn't mention the cost compared to other ways of producing formic acid.
In addition to Slowburn's point, they didn't report what the byproducts are for the "wide variety of applications." I'm guessing... CO2.
Rik Delaet
If this method will be used for cleaning the air from CO2, how will we dispose of all the HCOOH? It's a rather strong acid, much stronger than the H2CO3 from which it is produced.
Jansen Estrup
I wish researchers would stop experimenting with water as a component of so many 'breakthroughs' ... we need more water for drinking and farming. Unless these projects can reclaim fracked and other toxic water, salt water or other currently unusable sources, they should be abandoned. There is already far too little safe potable water available. Surely there are other ways to store energy. Of course there are.
Get these fools out of the kitchen before they screw up everything.
Aaryn Johansen
Use solar power to electrolyse salt water. This can produce the corresponding metal hydroxide (NaOH if sea water used) and halogen gas. The hydroxide reacts with atmospheric CO2 to produce Na2CO3 which can be stored in solid for of used as a additive to concrete and other cementitious building material. There are to many safe and environmentally friendly uses for halogen gasses. These gasses are of high commercial value and could potentially sustain the process economically. In reality, this and other technologies will never get off the ground until the externality of CO2 emission is suitably priced to reflect the impact it produces. This will never happen due to the 'tragedy of the commons' attitude.
@ Rik Delaet The article mentioned that there are industrial uses for formic acid.
Rod Gonzaga
Article did not mention that the byproduct of running the formic acid fuel cell to generate an electrical current is... water and CO2.
With the increasing amount of empirical evidence suggesting that CO2 isn't the "pollutant" that we've been told it is, I can see no real purpose for these type of extravagant exercises in inefficiency.
I agree with the points of the other users, and would like to add, CO2 should only be capture from the source and not merely the air. Here's why; the ground air CO2 feeds plants which grow to gather more when fed, enlarging our carbon sink responsible for 20% of absorbtion. Removing from a source on the other hand keeps it from reaching the atmosphere which takes 100+ years to fully cycle it down. Like the others, anything using potable water or hydrogen is off the table in my book. To the scientist I say: Keep trying.. Not there quite yet.