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Exclusive: The scientists who turned fresh air into petrol

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posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 05:01 AM
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A British company has produced "petrol from air" by refining air vapour with carbon dioxide.


Air Fuel Synthesis in Stockton-on-Tees has produced five litres of petrol since August when it switched on a small refinery that manufactures gasoline from carbon dioxide and water vapour.

The company hopes that within two years it will build a larger, commercial-scale plant capable of producing a ton of petrol a day. It also plans to produce green aviation fuel to make airline travel more carbon-neutral.

The Independent


While this story is hard to believe at face value, it has been reported in both the Independent and the (Telegraph) which quote the head of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers confirming the scientific discovery.


Tim Fox, head of energy and the environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, said: "It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. They are doing it and I've been up there myself and seen it. The innovation is that they have made it happen as a process. It's a small pilot plant capturing air and extracting CO2 from it based on well known principles. It uses well-known and well-established components but what is exciting is that they have put the whole thing together and shown that it can work."

Although the process is still in the early developmental stages and needs to take electricity from the national grid to work, the company believes it will eventually be possible to use power from renewable sources such as wind farms or tidal barrages.

"We've taken carbon dioxide from air and hydrogen from water and turned these elements into petrol," said Peter Harrison, the company's chief executive, who revealed the breakthrough at a conference at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.

The Independent


The resulting gasoline can be used in normal engines, apparently. Removing carbon dioxide from the air will also presumably remove greenhouse gases.

How does it work?


The process involves air being blown into a tower containing sodium hydroxide which reacts with carbon dioxide in the air, forming sodium carbonate. Electricity is then used to release the carbon dioxide, which is stored. With me so far? A dehumidifier is then used to condense water. The water (H2O as every school person knows) is split into its constituent H-Hydrogen and O-Oxygen components. The hydrogen is reacted with the carbon dioxide to create “Syngas”. This is processed to form methanol which is subsequently turned into petrol. The resultant synthetic petrol can be used as replacement fuel for existing vehicles or can be used to store intermittent energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, when it might otherwise be wasted.

Noetic Science




One downside however is that the process requires electricity, suggesting that it may be merely transforming one source of energy into a different form, while a refinery-scale operation is expected sometime in the next 15 years, which seems a long time off.

None the less, the discovery, if genuine, is interesting.

edit on 19-10-2012 by ollncasino because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 05:11 AM
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reply to post by ollncasino
 


Cool. If they can use solar energy to power the refinery it may be cost efficient.
edit on 19-10-2012 by Wifibrains because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 05:13 AM
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and now we watch as the evil oil companies kill this mans career, or he just drops dead



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 05:14 AM
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Gee you got this up fast. I heard this like 3 minutes ago on BBC World News. They haven't even run the story yet. It could be significant if it's scale-able. Maybe paired with solar or wind electricity generation.



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 05:18 AM
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Originally posted by Josephus
Gee you got this up fast. I heard this like 3 minutes ago on BBC World News. They haven't even run the story yet. It could be significant if it's scale-able. Maybe paired with solar or wind electricity generation.


What concerns me is that it doesn't appear to be an energy source as much as converting electrical energy into petrol. I wonder if it wouldn't be more energy efficient to just use electricity in the first place?

Still, time will tell.



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 05:28 AM
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On a larger scale why wouldn't they power the plant with generators fuelled by their own petrol?



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 05:30 AM
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The process involves air being blown into a tower containing sodium hydroxide which reacts with carbon dioxide in the air, forming sodium carbonate. Electricity is then used to release the carbon dioxide, which is stored. With me so far?


Sodium hydroxide creates a nasty exothermic reaction simply mixing with water. There are chemical bonds just dying to release their energy. And when used for something like this, one has to account how much energy is being produced by the hydroxide. Even worse, is they are still going to use electricity afterward.

With me so far?

This sounds like a total waste of time...



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 05:31 AM
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Originally posted by GobbledokTChipeater
On a larger scale why wouldn't they power the plant with generators fuelled by their own petrol?


Because, it's doubtful they would be getting a decent amount back. And then you have those unlimited supplies of NaOH to worry about..



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 05:33 AM
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reply to post by boncho
 


True, I did think of efficiency myself afterwards. The limited supply of NaOH is a good point too.

It hardly seems worth it unless the whole plant can be run from renewable sources, as already stated.

I'd be very interested to see how much electricity and raw materials it needs to produce X amount of petrol.
edit on 19/10/12 by GobbledokTChipeater because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 06:26 AM
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"Air" is a finite resource. Using "air" as a fuel source will severely damage our planet's ecosystem. Humans and animals will be especially effected because the won't have anything.... to breathe.

I predict we'll reach a peak-air point by 2070.



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 06:49 AM
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This is a very neat idea, but the chemicals and process they are using still make other chemical waste. I guess if they manage to run a few test they can see this and should be able to figure out some way to use or eliminate the waste by product. But the amount of energy then needed to make and clean the waste might make this unpractical in the long run.



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 07:07 AM
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Stil not green and or good for the environment. uses co² to create more co² . When will we really grow up and start using real clean energies, combustion engine is so 1850..



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 07:48 AM
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Here is the Wikipedia of sodium hydroxide for anyone unsure of what it is, how it's used or how it's made.

sodium hydroxide



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 07:51 AM
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Perhaps now the petrochemical companies will finally come out from under a rock and admit that crude oil actually IS a chemical process provided by organisms way under the Earth's surface, and we will never run out of oil anyway....
And the process doesnt use "Air"...it removes Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere (what all the Global warmists have been scaring everyone about), takes hydrogen out of water (H2O)..leaving pure oxygen and then turns it into methane, then "Gas".

And as far as electricity use goes...how much energy do you think is wasted, just to produce a gallon of gas?
Oil used to dig it out the ground, electricity and oil used to make the machines to dig it out the ground. Huge ships especially built to take it around the World...oil and electricity use..
Pipes made to transport it.....cement, steel, etc etc.
Trucks for transport etc, Refineries running on electricity etc, etc etc....
etc etc...
More energy currently used to get your gallon of gas into your car, than just using Air and water..dont you think??



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 08:12 AM
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Originally posted by gort51
Perhaps now the petrochemical companies will finally come out from under a rock and admit that crude oil actually IS a chemical process provided by organisms way under the Earth's surface, and we will never run out of oil anyway....
And the process doesnt use "Air"...it removes Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere (what all the Global warmists have been scaring everyone about), takes hydrogen out of water (H2O)..leaving pure oxygen and then turns it into methane, then "Gas".

And as far as electricity use goes...how much energy do you think is wasted, just to produce a gallon of gas?
Oil used to dig it out the ground, electricity and oil used to make the machines to dig it out the ground. Huge ships especially built to take it around the World...oil and electricity use..
Pipes made to transport it.....cement, steel, etc etc.
Trucks for transport etc, Refineries running on electricity etc, etc etc....
etc etc...
More energy currently used to get your gallon of gas into your car, than just using Air and water..dont you think??


THANK YOU...
And last time i checked, my car still runs on "gas", not electricity.



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 08:17 AM
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reply to post by ollncasino
 


It's not hard to believe.. oil is made from carbon.. and carbon is in the air..

The only problem I have with this is that it doesn't seem at all practical .. how much energy and time was expended to produce this tiny bit of fuel? .. in other words.. it took far more effort to create than what you will get out of it.
edit on 10/19/2012 by miniatus because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 08:20 AM
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Originally posted by gort51
More energy currently used to get your gallon of gas into your car, than just using Air and water..dont you think??


Not true..

Yes it takes energy to build the machines and drill the holes.. but once you've found a source, they are usually very abundant and millions of barrels of crude are piped out .. more energy is gained from those sources than was expended to extract it and refine it.

In the process the OP posted however.. I am quite sure that more energy and time was expended than was worth the tiny amount of fuel that was produced ..



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 08:24 AM
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Originally posted by Miccey
THANK YOU...
And last time i checked, my car still runs on "gas", not electricity.


Your car will run on any kind of energy that it was designed to run on =) ... combustion engines run on gas, electric runs on .. well .. electric..

You can run a car on compressed air... energy is energy .. it doesn't have to be fossil fuels... it just is because it was first to market and very abundant.



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 08:28 AM
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Why not skip the air and just run the electricity to batteries? This guy is simply changing energy, not creating it.



posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 08:29 AM
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reply to post by gort51
 


The petrochemical companies are spending plenty of money looking into similar things. Granted they ain't pulling CO2 out of the air but there has been a lot of developements in Gas-To-Liquids (GTL) technology over the last decade and as the price of oil rises the more financially viable the technologies become. GTL just uses nat gas and coverts it into low chained hydrocarbons i.e. to create your petrol.

I don't have the link but if you search any of these and GTL i'm sure you'll get the idea
PetroSA/Statoil, Mossel Bay, South Africa – 35 kb/d
Shell, Bintulu, Malaysia 14.7 kb/d
Shell Pearl, Qatar - 140 kb/d (predicted)
Sasol/Qatar Petroleum, Oryx, Qatar – 34 kb/d
Sasol/Chevron, Escarvos, Nigeria – 34 kb/d (predicted)
Tinhert, Algeria – 65 kb/d (predicted)
ExxonMobil – 154 kb/d (cancelled)
Syntroleum
Rentech
ConocoPhillips – (cancelled)

For the time being i'm sure its far cheaper to just use nat gas for you syngas than it is to make your from extracting CO2 fromt the air. Its still a cool tech to have if we ever run out of oil and nat gas.





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