For Israeli firm, an answer to global warming blowing in the wind

December 2, 2015 by Daphne Rousseau
Vice president Uzi Aharony (R) and chief executive officer David Banitt of the Israeli startup company NewCO2Fuels (NCF), work o
Vice president Uzi Aharony (R) and chief executive officer David Banitt of the Israeli startup company NewCO2Fuels (NCF), work on a solar test facility in Rehovot

For an Israeli start-up, one answer to global warming is blowing in the wind. The company called NewCO2Fuels, or NCF, has been developing its own version of a technology that allows heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions to be captured and recycled back into useable fuel.

It sounds complicated—and it is—but the company's founders say it holds real potential in the fight against .

Such capture technologies have gained increased attention as countries seek alternative methods of cutting back on , the main culprit in global warming.

Around 140 world leaders have gathered this week for highly anticipated talks in Paris with the aim of spearheading a climate pact and heading off a disastrous rise in in the coming years.

"Our concept is to take the residue from the production of CO2 along with heat produced in industries and turn them into profit," chief executive David Banitt said of the company located in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv.

"We cannot only wield the stick and make polluters pay. You also have to hold out the carrot and allow them to see commercial potential."

The company is attempting to position itself in a new market offering what has come to be known as carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies.

A global race has been underway to develop such industrial-scale solutions.

David Banitt, CEO of the Israeli startup company NewCO2Fuels (NCF), explains the innovative technology that converts carbon diox
David Banitt, CEO of the Israeli startup company NewCO2Fuels (NCF), explains the innovative technology that converts carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) into synthetic transportation fuel, a clean and affordable energy

NCF hopes to begin offering its technology commercially before 2018 and estimates the global market at a potential $24 billion annually.

"We have to find a proactive solution, and that is where we come in," Banitt told AFP.

Hi-tech recycling machine

Marie Renner, climate economics researcher at the University of Paris-Dauphine, said there was major enthusiasm over capture and storage technology around 2008-2010, but the economic crisis and collapse in prices of carbon-based fuels dampened interest.

She said the NCF technology appeared to be aimed at producing clean-burning fuel and she hoped other companies would keep the focus on what is good for the environment if such solutions become widespread.

"We have to ask if placing value on CO2 to produce fuel will derail the capture-and-storage plan's philosophy—of its primary role—which is to slow climate change," Renner said.

On a top floor of a building at Rehovot's Weizmann Institute of Science, the NCF team has been carrying out work on its prototype involving a capable of producing something called syngas from CO2, water and heat.

The syngas can then be used to create synthetic fuels.

Uzi Aharony, vice president of the Israeli startup company NewCO2Fuels (NCF), works on a solar test facility in Rehovot
Uzi Aharony, vice president of the Israeli startup company NewCO2Fuels (NCF), works on a solar test facility in Rehovot

A field of solar panels surrounds the building along with a mirror to heat the reactor to more than 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,0832 Fahrenheit).

Within the reactor, the CO2 and water is used to produce the syngas, said Uzi Aharoni, the company's head of operations.

The idea is for the technology to be used by plants that emit heat and CO2, such as steel or coal gasification plants.

The CO2 would be captured instead of being sent into the atmosphere, then transformed back into fuel—a hi-tech recycling machine.

In its final form, syngas that fits into a one-cubic-metre tank is equivalent to the photosynthesis energy of 300 trees.

"We are transforming these constraints into opportunities," said the 63-year-old Banitt, who calls himself an environmentalist, "but not fanatic".

"Treating CO2 and transforming it into a product does not necessarily involve costs, but can instead generate revenue and profits."

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12 comments

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FredJose
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 02, 2015
Now someone needs to please come up with a way or ways of dealing with the major health risks created by motorized vehicles - brake dust, NOx, hydro carbons, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and diesel particulates.

Furthermore, given that most people travel to and from alone in their cars, it really would make sense to FORCE people via laws to use single/two-seater miniature vehicles instead of the 4 -seater cars we drive today. This would mean that manufacturers would have to produce highly efficient small vehicles specially for commuters. They could then increase their profits since more people would have to own single/two seater vehicles in addition to the normal 4+ seaters. They could pat themselves on the shoulder for contributing to a healthier planet as well. Sometimes the profit motive simply blinds the people to other possibilities.
gkam
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 02, 2015
Fred, I chose to put PV panels on my roof and buy and electric car. With the responsiveness and cheaper fuel, I do not want another fossil fuel automobile. But for now, we will need some of them for distance.

But not forever.
gkam
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 02, 2015
I see Ira is back to his automatic backstabbing me after promising me he wouldn't.

Maybe he can tell us how he is helping change our carbon footprint.
Uncle Ira
3 / 5 (8) Dec 02, 2015
I see Ira is back to his automatic backstabbing me after promising me he wouldn't.


I never promised anything Cher. Where you get a promise from me about anything? The vote was not automatic. I voted you down because in the last month you seem to want to tell about your electric car, your electric roof and your electric hot water when you want it. You have told us all about this a hundred times, sometimes 20 or 19 times a day.

Maybe he can tell us how he is helping change our carbon footprint.


Maybe he can and maybe he can't. But he probably won't because it will only give you the chance to talk about your self some more.
gkam
2.2 / 5 (10) Dec 02, 2015
Since Ira has done nothing, he can only talk about others.
Uncle Ira
3 / 5 (6) Dec 02, 2015
Since Ira has done nothing, he can only talk about others


Not like the glam-Skippy, Ira-Skippy just don't care what you think. Why you think I should care? You are just another couyon on the interweb and have no effect on me at all unless you provide me with something to waste some time fooling around with, eh?

Why is what the interweb peoples you fool around with think so much the important thing to you? Maybe you would be better trying to be a little more like me and not think that it is important to tell everybody just how wonderful and awesome you are all the time?

Thanks for the NO help with my antenna problem after all these months of you begging me to ask you to help me learn stuffs. A Skippy down the road got me fixed up in quick time on what it was I was over looking in making my model. Now all I got to do lower the darn thing AGAIN and braze or bolt some rods out the top for the cap-hat now that I know why I was getting the wrong numbers.
gopher65
5 / 5 (3) Dec 05, 2015
Now someone needs to please come up with a way or ways of dealing with the major health risks created by motorized vehicles - brake dust, NOx, hydro carbons, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and diesel particulates.


What, you mean like a Tesla? It doesn't produce any of those (power source dependent, of course), not even brake dust. One petal driving 4tw!
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Dec 05, 2015
gopher, our little car has four levels of regeneration, and I love taking my foot off the accelerator and see the energy being pumped back into the battery.
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Dec 05, 2015
RichManJoe
2 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2015
From an energy standpoint, how (in)efficient is this process, say, compared to a tree. One may be using solar panels, etc. but wouldn't it be better to use the PV energy directly than to go through an inefficient process to manufacture a carbon based fuel from CO2, which will just generate more CO2? Sounds to me it is brought to us by the same people who put ethanol in gasoline.
MR166
not rated yet Dec 06, 2015
The process looks to have some promise if the source of the waste heat, CO2 and water are all in close proximity. If the solar plant uses heat directly with no conversion to electricity then one inefficient step would be eliminated. This is a great way to utilize an intermittent source of energy. That being said I wonder how clean the water and input CO2 need to be. Also, getting excess clean water, sun and CO2 all in the same local might limit the usefulness of the process. 1000 degree waste heat is not all that common in industrial processes since any smart business would find a way to use that energy to preheat the feed stock and recycle the energy.
Shakescene21
4 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2015
The most exciting feature of using captured CO2 to produce Biofuel is that this potentially can be CO2-NEGATIVE, not simply CO2-neutral. Carbon-neutral technologies such as PV and Windpower are very helpful as substitutes for CO2-positive technologies like oil-burning engines, but they will probably not become universal quickly enough to prevent atmospheric CO2 from becoming too high.

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