Air Fuel Synthesis shows petrol from air has future

Oct 19, 2012 by Nancy Owano report
Credit: Air Fuel Synthesis

(Phys.org)—Petrol from air at first glance from this week's headlines, claiming scientists have turned fresh air into petrol, looked as if this was yet another over the top claim about a killer solution to solve the environmental crisis and specter of global warming. Still, engineers in the UK believe a small UK company may be on to something real, a synthetic replacement for fossil fuel. A small company in the north of England, Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS), has developed air capture technology to create synthetic petrol. The company has been running a demonstration plant in Stockton-on-Tees where it has produced five liters of petrol since August, manufacturing gasoline from carbon dioxide and water vapor.

"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. "The unit we have here is a demo facility to show the processes can work," he said. AFS expects to be in production by 2015.

Tim Fox, the head of energy and the environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, underlined the significance of what he has seen of the AFS solution so far. "The innovation is that they have made it happen as a process. It's a small capturing air and extracting CO2 from it based on well-known principles."

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Its product looks and smells like petrol but it's cleaner and clearer, without additives. The fuel can be used in any regular petrol tank. The results so far are said to be promising but there are more development stages to go. The company said power could be used from such as or tidal barrages. The company has used carbon dioxide extracted from air to make petrol, but it is also using industrial sources of until it can improve on carbon capture.

Still, the company has its own vision. The company hopes that in two years it will build a larger, commercial-scale plant capable of producing a ton of petrol a day. "We think that by the end of 2014, provided we can get the funding going, we can be producing petrol using renewable energy and doing it on a commercial basis," Harrison said.

The vision is also that people could go on to a garage and put the new product into their cars without having to install batteries or adapt the vehicle for fuel cells or having hydrogen tanks fitted. AFS also plans to produce "green" aviation fuel to make air travel more carbon-neutral.

Explore further: Intelligent façades generating electricity, heat and algae biomass

More information: www.airfuelsynthesis.com/

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AlexDSP
not rated yet Oct 19, 2012
A few weeks ago there was a similar article: http://phys.org/n...eas.html
This uses the advantage of a relatively high concentration (140x) of CO2 in seawater compared to air. Can AFS also use seawater?
MalcS
5 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2012
Petrol from air is stretching a point! petrol from water,CO2 and sunlight is a less tabloid headline-ish
axemaster
4.7 / 5 (3) Oct 19, 2012
Lol, I already knew about this for a few years. The process works, but it's hard to do sufficient volumes because of the very low CO2 content of Earth's atmosphere.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (7) Oct 19, 2012
A ton per day? Really? I mean: yes the process seems intriguing, but a ton a day is - given prices straight from refineries (i.e. without tax) - not exactly the kind of cash that an entire plant needs to generate
(At the refinery the cost is about 30-60 cent per liter. So this powerplant would generate about 300-600 dollars revenue a day. That's barely enough to pay 2 employees - let alone building anything (or perform maintenance)

Before this is viable it still has pretty far to go.
cyberCMDR
3 / 5 (2) Oct 19, 2012
Combine these with coal fired plants to extract the CO2 emissions. You'll need some hefty additional green power sources, since using the power from the plant would be stupid. If they get cap and trade implemented, the plants can make a profit both on the fuel and on the CO2 they don't emit.
Osiris1
2 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2012
Should be a green industry..locate it in China in Szhenshen Province or near Beijing to remove pollution and freshen the air. Output of this sucker is Oxygen!, and those folks in those areas have air so bad they need to wear O2 masks just to breathe
Husky
5 / 5 (2) Oct 19, 2012
i would pair a coal plant with carbon scrubber next to a high temperature nuclear gas reactor that allows direct thermal generation of hydrogen from water instead of electrolysis, during the day both will focus on delivering electricity grid demand, at night or other low demands they will continu to operate in thermal mode and create fuels, this allows to run in efficient and optimal grid loading way.
freethinking
2.3 / 5 (15) Oct 19, 2012
If this works GREAT! Lets make sure no Progressive is supporting it, that way it may work.

Whenever Progressives in Government get their hands into green energy, the outcome is anything but green and winds up costing billions.
dogbert
3 / 5 (6) Oct 19, 2012
The company has been running a demonstration plant in Stockton-on-Tees where it has produced five liters of petrol since August, manufacturing gasoline from carbon dioxide and water vapor.


Approximately 2.5 months to produce 5 liters of fuel. The article does not list the amount of energy consumed to produce this fuel, but it probably far exceeded the energy the fuel can release when burned.

This is not really creating fuel, it is just converting energy from one (or several forms) to another form. Converting energy chemically always results in energy loss.

Can't see this as a useful process until we have something like fusion energy and need to store energy in a compact, easily transported form. It is now far more efficient to just use the hydrocarbons the earth already provides.
dirk_bruere
5 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2012
Whether it has a future depends on its energy efficiency
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2012
Whether it has a future depends on its energy efficiency
This process indeed consumes huge amount of energy (way larger, than the energy required from production of petrol from oil). It would be legit after implementation of cold fusion as the primary source of energy, i.e. not oil and gas as today..
marble89
4 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2012
The thermodynamics dont make sense here. It takes a HUGE amount of energy to breakup CO2. The renewable/solar energy required can be used FAR more efficiently to generate electricity etc. IMHO
FMA
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 19, 2012
The fuel generates from this process is just like charging batteries and you can bring the "batteries" to anywhere you want.

But why don't you directly charge the batteries from solar panel and windmill?
pauljpease
3 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012
The thermodynamics dont make sense here. It takes a HUGE amount of energy to breakup CO2. The renewable/solar energy required can be used FAR more efficiently to generate electricity etc. IMHO


Yes it takes a lot of energy to break up CO2, but that energy isn't lost, some of it is stored in your new fuel molecule. Considering all of the costs of generating and storing electricity (batteries have very low energy density, and are made out of precious and expensive materials, and take a lot of energy to produce), turning renewable energy into liquid fuel is a decent idea. Especially if we get something like ITER working.
Chromodynamix
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2012
This is a scam to attract more funding.
The "petrol from air" technology involves taking sodium hydroxide and mixing it with carbon dioxide before "electrolysing" the sodium carbonate that it produces to form pure carbon dioxide. Hydrogen is then produced by electrolysing water vapour captured with a dehumidifier. The Carbon dioxide and hydrogen is used to produce methanol which in turn is passed through a gasoline fuel reactor, creating petrol.

So it looks like a lot of electricity is used in electrolysis, never mind the Sodium hydroxide also needed which is also produced by electrolysis, also releasing Hydrogen.

Unsurprisingly the airline industry has shown an interest in this totally impractical idea. Shifting the deckchairs, by claiming the fuel has no carbon footprint?
Pkunk_
1 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012
@ValeriaT said -
Whether it has a future depends on its energy efficiency
This process indeed consumes huge amount of energy (way larger, than the energy required from production of petrol from oil). It would be legit after implementation of cold fusion as the primary source of energy, i.e. not oil and gas as today..

Which means this is never going to happen. On the other hand with the development of "real" hot fusion this can definetly take off , although it would make far more sense then to go he hydrogen economy then since it will not add back any CO2 to the air.
_traw_at
3 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012
I think they're on to something.
Theoretically, 4 H20 = 1 CO2 = a CH4 5 O2.
As far as I know--but I never finished High School chemistry...if indeed I took it.
Mom Nature does this quite well already, but deep within the earth at extreme high pressures, and with yet-unidentified catalysts.

I say this research is worth pursuing.

Sure it'll cost money, but keep in mind the tens, or hundreds of billions of dollars, euros, or whatever that is spent every year on trying to find some way of getting rid of all the nuclear waste that is being created. Money spent since the 1940s, without one viable solution found yet. All the nuclear waste ever created is piled up in storage facilities waiting for a workable solution to get rid of them... except those wastes which have escaped into the environment (or has been deliberately dumped into the ocean off Somalia by the Mafia). And the pile keeps getting deeper.
javjav
3 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012
But why don't you directly charge the batteries from solar panel and windmill?
Because batteries are heavy and expensive, and they cant use existing infrastrcture and 99 % of the cars. The battery.weight is also a blocking issue for using them on planes. It can also be cost effective for cars if they can make a compact machine for doing it at home.
ValeriaT
2 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2012
Which means this is never going to happen.
Yes, Kelvin has said too, the planes heavier than air are impossible. And he was top expert of his era, not just an anonymous Internet windbag..
loneislander
2 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2012
Anyone working on air to fuel would be feeling the breath of these horses: http://phys.org/n...ncy.html
_traw_at
not rated yet Oct 20, 2012
Add: Obviously, I'm anti-nuke. That being said, I would support the design, construction, and commissioning of 1 Thorium-based nuke power plant. Just to see if it lives up to all the hype.
JRi
not rated yet Oct 20, 2012
5 Liters juice in 2 months! And the pilot plant itself already looks quite big in the video clip. Pretty much work for a ~70 mile drive, I would say.

By bicycle, that makes only about one mile a day. One would also get some healthy exercise.
Anonymous586
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2012
Use 3rd Generation nuclear reactors, such as the Westinghouse AP1000, to generate the electricity to create extract CO2 from t he air or sea water and go through the necessary process to make petrol. This is better because it is a carbon neutral process. And the latest generation of nuclear reactors are much safer and are much more environmentally friendly. Even after the nuclear accident in Japan, I still think nuclear as the best choice. What happen in Japan is like saying that all Automotive vehicles are crappy because someone got into an accident driving around in a Ford Model T and that we should ban all cars including the latest the car with the latest technology.
Saltpeter
5 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012
This article and especially the video look like a touchy-feely information-free advert. It doesn't belong on any serious science news site.
Argiod
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 20, 2012
We seem to be hell-bent on sucking every once of life out of the planet. What are they going to do when all forms of energy are exhausted? Will we then resort to using baby fat for fuel? Will we have to render the fat from a body before interring it? How long will humans go on destroying everything worth living for, before we realize we cannot have infinite population growth in a world with finite resources? Somewhere, some time, the resources will be gone...
Argiod
1 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2012
Use 3rd Generation nuclear reactors, such as the Westinghouse AP1000, to generate the electricity to create extract CO2 from t he air or sea water and go through the necessary process to make petrol. This is better because it is a carbon neutral process. And the latest generation of nuclear reactors are much safer and are much more environmentally friendly. Even after the nuclear accident in Japan, I still think nuclear as the best choice. What happen in Japan is like saying that all Automotive vehicles are crappy because someone got into an accident driving around in a Ford Model T and that we should ban all cars including the latest the car with the latest technology.


So, when are you going to move to Fukushima; where the safety of nuclear energy has been well proven? Or, perhaps you intend to live in Chernobyl; another fine example of 'clean' nuclear energy. If you want to remain in the United States; may I recommend Three Mile Island? Good, safe, clean nuclear energy.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012
What are they going to do when all forms of energy are exhausted?

It'll be hard to exhaust the power of the sun (or the power stored in a sphere of 13000km radius basically made up of molten stone)

The question you're asking should be: What are we going to do when we have exhausted all the energy that someone can make a buck off of? Because that is the real threat here: when we start to use the virtually infinite amounts of energy available to all of us on a democratic basis.
ValeriaT
2 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2012
The high price of solar energy with compare to energy from coal essentially means, you're required to exerts the same amount of coal for mining of raw source materials, for purification and treatment of silicon, for installation and liquidation of solar plants, for storage of energy during night and winter periods to balance the supply-demand equilibrium. The price of solar energy is just an expression of its hidden economical and ecological footprint: so called the TCO (total cost of ownership). Because you cannot have a technology, which is expensive economically and it has low energetic impact as a whole. The solar and wind plants just replace the high direct consumption of fuels with high consumption of fuels required for their construction and handling - that's the whole story. This is the primary reason of the high cost of solar energy, nothing else. The very similar problem exists with high cost of electromobility.
IronhorseA
3 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012


So, when are you going to move to Fukushima; where the safety of nuclear energy has been well proven? Or, perhaps you intend to live in Chernobyl; another fine example of 'clean' nuclear energy. If you want to remain in the United States; may I recommend Three Mile Island? Good, safe, clean nuclear energy.


Technology isn't the problem, business people are. They want the return on their investment yesterday and will cut any corner to get it.
n00boy
not rated yet Oct 20, 2012
Are the technical sheets available, to check the details of their technique?
ValeriaT
2 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2012
I can find only PR and market plans. Here you can read: The standard unit size is anticipated to be 1000 tonnes per day (tpd) of liquid (aviation) fuel that is the equivalent of 7 return flights per day by 747 airliners between London and New York. This will require 1.2GW (mean) renewable power producing 210,000 (mean) cubic m per hour of renewable hydrogen. So that production of 1 cubic meter of hydrogen would require 5.714 kWh of electrical energy, which roughly corresponds 10 kWh = 30.6 MJ of thermal energy. If we consider the burning of 1 cubic meter of hydrogen releases 10,05 MJ of energy, the energetic efficiency of this process is roughly 30%.
Maggnus
1 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012
This is the kind of technology that may help to soften the worst effects of the coming storm, and regardless of its energy efficiency or cost, it should be rigorously pursued.

antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 20, 2012
Technology isn't the problem, business people are. They want the return on their investment yesterday and will cut any corner to get it.

But you are aware that without that corner cutting such energy sources are nowhere near as cheap as you pretend they are?
unknownorgin
1 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012
It looks like electrical power from renewable sources is stored as hydrogen minus IR losses (heat) then power is needed for filtering CO2 and possibly heating and compressors for the reactor. This is nothing more than an energy storage system and there is no way it can compete economicaly with oil. You are much better off growing algee for feul at a fraction of the equipment cost.
holoman
not rated yet Oct 20, 2012
The sea water to jet fuel US Navy is pursuing is worth R&D but
this technology has too many problems to be a successful business.
MikPetter
1 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2012
This process has very dubious environmental impacts. Petrol is still petrol, burning it will still produce CO2 and NOx. This process just recycles CO2 from atmosphere to car to atmosphere while using a lot energy and making more NOx pollutants. Cant see any real environmental benefits.
IronhorseA
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2012
Technology isn't the problem, business people are. They want the return on their investment yesterday and will cut any corner to get it.

But you are aware that without that corner cutting such energy sources are nowhere near as cheap as you pretend they are?


I'm talking about impatience. Using substandard materials for the application rather than using the correct (and in some cases mandated) and sitting tight instead of expecting to 'get rich' overnight. The cost is the same, the profit just takes longer to return. Cutting corners simply allows getting the profit now instead of waiting.
holoman
1 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2012
5 liters in 3 months and takes a lot more energy than it creates.

Uses toxic and dangerous chemicals not to mention the waste by-products. The cost will be out of this world.

This is a high school lab experiment not a real biz break thru.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 22, 2012
The cost is the same, the profit just takes longer to return.

Not by a long shot. Cutting corners today means also: not caring about waste disposal.

Do you have any idea how much it costs to store something for thousands of years and keep it under surveillance all that time?
Lex Talonis
2 / 5 (4) Oct 22, 2012
Yeah - when the plant is producing 5000 tons a day, call me.
IronhorseA
1 / 5 (2) Oct 22, 2012
The cost is the same, the profit just takes longer to return.

Not by a long shot. Cutting corners today means also: not caring about waste disposal.

Do you have any idea how much it costs to store something for thousands of years and keep it under surveillance all that time?

Drop it into a subduction zone and let the earth recycle it. Transportation to the zone, no long term storage costs.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 22, 2012
Drop it into a subduction zone and let the earth recycle it.

You are aware at what speeds subduction zones move? And that any container you place therein (how exactly) would rot long before it had moved a meter and release all its precious cargo into the oceans?

Brilliant plan.
Pkunk_
1 / 5 (2) Oct 22, 2012
Which means this is never going to happen.
Yes, Kelvin has said too, the planes heavier than air are impossible. And he was top expert of his era, not just an anonymous Internet windbag..

Most of the supporters of "cold fusion" ARE - "anonymous Internet windbag's". Just readup a few of the many "expert" opinions easily searched via google and all of a sudden these idiots are now "experts" in cold fusion.
And they leave no chance to propagate their tripe with absolutely no verifiable experimental evidence to back it up !
dogbert
1 / 5 (3) Oct 22, 2012
You are aware at what speeds subduction zones move? And that any container you place therein (how exactly) would rot long before it had moved a meter and release all its precious cargo into the oceans? Brilliant plan.


Not if you bake it into ceramics first.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 22, 2012
Which still doesn't get this stuff INTO the subduction zone (how does that work, exactly? And how exactly are you going to make sure no one gets this stuff out?)
Remember that tech moves on as this stuff takes centuries/milennia until it gets to melt.

Bank vaults of 50 years ago would be a laugh to criminals of today. And this stuff will be sitting there for anyone to take. In an uncontrolled environment (what if that stuff is not 'transported in' but crushed and leaks out? You can't forecast teh specific movement of the rocks there. Subduction zones are eartquake zones (!). There is just so much wrong with this idea the list goes on and on.

Also do you know how much stuff we're talking about? Obviously not.

'Subduction zone'-disposal is a pipe dream. It's the dream of those that think this stuff can be put on a garbage heap and forgotten about.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Oct 22, 2012
with absolutely no verifiable experimental evidence to back it up
All experiments of Piantelli are thoroughly described in his articles. What's unverifiable on Cellani's public demonstrations? The basic problem of yours is, you have no peer-revived evidence of their replication, because it has been never done, published the less. After then you simply cannot have evidence, that these experiments don't work, because all experiments published about it so far are positive.
IronhorseA
1 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2012
Which still doesn't get this stuff INTO the subduction zone (how does that work, exactly? And how exactly are you going to make sure no one gets this stuff out?)...


As an example, the Marianas trench is a subduction zone where the subduction occurs at an angle of 70 degrees. On the one hand at 2-8 cm per year it will take a while before its sufficiently buried that no one can retrieve it, on the other hand at 35000 foot depth, its out of reach of most who don't have deep pockets (keep in mind major nations will still keep an eye on the area for suspicious activity).

Still the subduction zone was an idea from a friend of mine, I say just put the ceramic embalmed waste back in the mine it was dug out of, the ground water in those areas is naturally undrinkable due to natural radiation.
polarhei
1 / 5 (1) Nov 21, 2012
The progress, which have tested,not fully ready yet. In ideal case, Everyone Can make gasoline,in everywhere because of gas.

However the CH4,which can be obtained via biological progress,just Do once more.
sk8sonh2o
not rated yet Dec 11, 2012
If the product was a boutique pure fuel it might have a premium price for military, aerospace or organic celebrities.
sk8sonh2o
not rated yet Dec 11, 2012
Can someone capture or at least flare off the methane from household septic systems? Maybe it could be collected for day or two and then run a tiny combustion engine just to safely burn it?
MNIce
not rated yet Dec 11, 2012
How is this better than using biological (solar-powered!) processes to make methanol for conversion to motor fuel? Plants take up CO2 without the need for supervision or electrical power. I suspect the capital cost of the power generation plus the production equipment will prove prohibitive for what appears to be a very low-margin process. If I am right, non-government investors will determine that the return on investment is not as good as a well-designed biofuel process. This is how smart capitalists encourage efficiency.

The carbon in coal, and possibly also in oil, was once part of a thriving ecology before it was fossilized. The problem is not that humans are putting it back in the environment in the form of CO2, but that the environment is not re-incorporating it quickly enough. We should put some effort into expanding areas of plant growth, and improving plant growth rates, instead of simply converting wild plant growth regions to agriculture.
tommyjonce
not rated yet Dec 11, 2012
I like it. We need an energy conversion and storage system with tolerable by-products. Maybe home solar has a future with this. Which energy company will buy and bury it?

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