UK Firm Produces Gasoline From Air
Companies across the globe are exploring alternative energy technologies that can help fuel vehicles with a lower environmental impact, including everything from biofuels to hydrogen cells to hybrid electric solutions. A UK firm is taking a different approach, using a chemical process to create fuel from air.
Air Fuel Synthesis claims to have created around 5 liters of petrol using a process in which carbon dioxide is combined with hydrogen molecules separated from water vapor. That process creates methanol, which is then passed through a gasoline fuel reactor to create petrol.
The process not only removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but produces a clean-burning fuel that can be used in standard engines.
The two-year project was supported with £1.1 million in funding from private investors. The firm initially plans to provide fuel for the motorsport industry, but is looking for investors to expand operations and, hopefully, drive down the cost of production.
Of course, not everyone is convinced this is a logical route to take when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, since the process is complicated and requires massive amounts of electricity. To give you an idea of the scope, here’s what the company recently posted on its FAQ page:
We need 3.9kg of CO2 to make one kilogram, or about 3.1kg to make one litre of gasoline. A typical ammonia plant would make well over 1,000 tons of CO2 per day. So a large gasoline reactor would probably use all the CO2 from a very large ammonia plant. We need about 30 kilowatts of power to make one kilogram of gasoline. The main energy cost is the cost of making the hydrogen through electrolysis of water. Most hydrogen is manufactured by steam reforming fossil fuels but our objective is to use sustainable energy, such as wind, hydro, and perhaps solar.
To make a ton of gasoline we would need about four and a half tons of water. However, all the water used to make the hydrogen is regenerated during methanol and gasoline synthesis, and some could be recycled.
You can see a video about the process below: