2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6, Page #05[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Making Oil Out Of Thin AirA British company has made a big splash in recent weeks after developing a process to make petroleum out of thin air. Air Fuel Synthesis (www.airfuelsynthesis.com) has set up a demonstration plant in North Yorkshire that takes CO2 and hydrogen from the air, adds electricity (from wind and solar), and makes oil that can be used as a direct replacement in cars and trucks. The company says they’re turning carbon dioxide into oil the same way photosynthesis in plants turns C02 into oil, they’re just doing it faster. They say the process is cost effective because they can use alternative electricity or off-peak power to provide the power needed.
Briefly, air is blown into a tower containing a mist of sodium hydroxide which reacts with carbon dioxide in the air, forming sodium carbonate. Electricity is then passed through the sodium carbonate to release the carbon dioxide, which is stored. A dehumidifier in the tower condenses water from the air. Water is then split into hydrogen and oxygen using electric current. The carbon dioxide and hydrogen react together to create methanol, which is passed through a gasoline fuel reactor, creating gasoline fuel.
Company chairman David Still says, “We are now ready to build the first commercial full-scale production plant.”
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