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Saturday, 17 November 2018 17:55

Recycling Energy, Making Fuel From Air! Featured

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Everything is energy! So why not recycle energy and help the environment too?

The same way we recycle other things, new technology can recycle carbon out of the atmosphere, combine it with hydrogen and oxygen to a create fuel that it is the same chemically as gas, diesel or jet fuel that can burn without pollutants as a biproduct. No pollutants? YES! No pollutants! No black smoke you see from trucks when they go up hill... even the diesel fuel burns completely clean!

Instead of changing our whole way of travel from vehicles that burn fuels to vehicles that run on electricity, (electricity by the way, is made by burning carbon producing fuel, but that’s another story) why not change the fuel to a clean burning one, that does not pollute and removes CO₂ from the air in the process of being made?

In a small town in Squamish, B.C., a facility is making gasoline from carbon dioxide emissions captured from thin air. The company named Carbon Engineering applies equipment and chemistry common in other industries to remove CO₂ from the air and then make fuel with it. They claim that those fuels, which are compatible with all vehicles or planes, can be entirely carbon neutral. While scientists debate the word “entirely,” they generally agree the process works. "This isn't a PowerPoint presentation," said Steve Oldham, CEO of Carbon Engineering."It's real."

A Swiss-based Company ‘Climeworks’ has already built a commercial-scale plant that removes carbon from the air, but their process costs Climeworks about $600 US a ton to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Carbon Engineering says it can do the job for between $94 US to $232 US a ton because it uses technology and components that are well understood and already commercially available.

"We're tapping into existing industrial equipment and then defining a new process and applying some unique chemistry to it," said Oldham.

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Carbon Engineering's plant in Squamish, B.C., currently pulls about one ton of carbon a day from the air and produces about two barrels of fuel. Since the technology and components it uses are off the rack, it should be easy to scale up, Oldham said.

The plant currently uses some natural gas, so by the time the fuel it produces has been burned, the production of it will release a half-ton of carbon dioxide for every ton it removed from the air. That gives it a carbon footprint 70 per cent lower than a fossil fuel, he said.

That footprint would shrink even further if the plant were all-electric. And if it ran on wind- or solar-generated electricity, the fuel creation would be almost carbon neutral.
Carbon Engineering's next step is to build a full-scale plant. That'll take about 2 1/2 years, said Oldham.

Carbon-neutral fuels would allow everyone to ditch the guilt associated with, say, booking an overseas flight or driving that big gas guzzler, Oldham points out: “If you can eliminate your carbon footprint, you don’t have to change your behavior.”

Carbon is uniformly distributed in the air so having a plant next to a “dirty factory” or having one in the middle of the desert would produce the same amount of fuel.

One of the great benefits of making fuel from air is energy independence, said Oldham. "Any country, any region, can have its own fuel. They'd be no longer dependent on the geopolitical situation if Country X has oil and Country Y does not."

A carbon neutral fuel that is compatible with any vehicle in use today? Truth is truly stranger than fiction.

 

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