20 Oct 2012

Petrol from air and water???

The BBC Business page carried a story this week about a company in NE England that is developing a technique to produce petrol from air and water. This sounds like something too good to be true, but if scaled up to production levels could be something remarkable.
"A British firm based on Teesside says it's designed revolutionary new technology that can produce petrol using air and water. Air Fuel Synthesis in Stockton-on-Tees has produced five litres of petrol since August, but hopes to be in production by 2015 making synthetic fuel targeted at the motor sports sector. The company believes the technique could help solve energy supply problems and curb global warming."
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20003704 .


Richard said...

Perhaps hot-air and water?

Anonymous said...

You said, "This sounds like something too good to be true..."

Yup... For a long time we've been able to make almost any type of hydrocarbon by reacting their constituent parts; in this case the parts would be carbon from carbon dioxide in air and hydrogen from water. So there's nothing new going on here.

The problem with this process is that it is very inefficient to extract carbon from carbon dioxide in air. It is also rather inefficient to electrolyze the hydrogen from water - which uses a lot of energy from the electrical power grid, which is in-turn largely generated by methods that introduce carbon to the atmosphere.

I think it would be better to extract the carbon from other carbon-rich sources, such as the exhaust from coal fired electric plants rather than directly from the atmosphere. But hey, that would remove the "save the planet" hype that comes from removing carbon directly from the atmosphere.

Actually, it would be far better to work on better ways of storing hydrogen and forget about the carbon part all together. Heck, they're electrolyzing hydrogen from water in this process anyway! Ah, but that too wouldn't carry the "save the planet" hype that comes from the carbon removal.

The only way this will ever become viable is if all our electricity comes from something like nuclear and fossil fuels skyrocket in price - which is inevitable in the long term, either from lack of supply and/or from artificial pressure such as Socialist Governments enacting carbon tax policies.

Anyway... Apple probably already patented this. So go fish.

Regards, David