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Guest Blog: Can petrol generated from the air become carbon neutral?

In the last week, a British company (Air Fuel Synthesis) introduced us to a potential breakthrough piece of technology which can create petrol using just air and electricity. One major benefit of this generated fuel is that it can be used in many of our transport options with no adaptation required.

This is a simplified look at how this technology works:

  • It mixes carbon dioxide with sodium hydroxide

  • It electrolyses the sodium carbonate to create a pure carbon dioxide

  • Hydrogen is then generated by electrolysing water vapour with a dehumidifier

The potential for this technology is huge. However, this energy source is at an early stage and there are a few stumbling blocks before it comes efficient to produce and commercially viable.

The problem and requirements

The main issue is that the process requires energy (electricity). Commercially generated fuel also demands efficiency which at the moment this method of petrol generation doesn’t have. At the moment it costs £400 to capture one ton of carbon dioxide which is unfeasible. Significant work is required to develop and streamline supply chains to reduce costs.

To become carbon neutral, it requires electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind farms. We are generating more and more renewable energy so this is a definite possibility within the next decade.

With funding and growing availability of renewable energy, the company hopes to produce petrol from air on a commercial basis from 2014.

The rise in UK wind farm electricity generation

Wind energy could go a long way in helping petrol generated from air become carbon neutral.The infographic here looks at UK wind farm electricity generation in 2012.

Facts

  • In 2011, electricity generation from onshore wind increased by 45% and rose 68% for offshore wind

  • There are currently 336 onshore and 16 offshore wind farms

  • Wind farms currently generate 6,836 megawatts of energy, supplying around 5% of electricity to the UK

  • The UK currently has the largest capacity of offshore wind, totalling as much as the rest of the world combined

The race to create a clean energy source to combat climate change is definitely on. I hope this technology advances over the next couple of years to become viable and fulfil its early promise.

This post was prepared by Louise French at CO2Sense, a UK company which helps businesses and local authorities to cut their costs, make money from renewable energy and grow.

 

Check out more Renewable Energy Focus blogs, including guest posts, here.

 

RE: Guest Blog: Can petrol generated from the air become carbon neutral?
Posted 04/11/2012 by
Looks interesting, but at what cost ??
RE: Guest Blog: Can petrol generated from the air become carbon neutral?
Posted 02/11/2012 by
"Hydrogen is then generated by electrolysing water vapour with a dehumidifier" What a nonsense!

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