In the 1990s Lin Chao of Princeton university bubbled carbon dioxide into an electrochemical cell. Using cathodes made from the element palladium and a catalyst known as pyridinium, he discovered that applying an electric current would assemble methanol from the CO2.
In 2003, amid the growing concern of CO2 pollution, Chao's successor Andrew Bocarsly set out to find a solution to the problem. Picking up where Bocarsly left off, Emily Barton, by using an electrochemical cell that employs a semiconducting material used in photovoltaic solar cells for one of its electrodes, succeeded in tapping sunlight to transform CO2 into the basic fuel.
Basically what they are doing is what plants have been doing forever: turning CO2 into fuel.
This could help humanity in numerous ways, it would slow down climate change, help secure our energy, lessen the federal deficit, and possibly even lower the unemployment rate.
Original article: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=turning-carbon-dioxide-back-into-fuel