The Gulf of Mexico oil spill left a lot of unanswered questions pertaining to the safety of the offshore drilling rigs. Moreover, since underground oil reserves aren’t getting replenished with fresh oil, the world today is confronted by an energy crisis among looming threats of global warming and climate change. The problem is only being aggravated with electric and hydrogen vehicles not able to take the place of conventionally fueled vehicles. Air Fuel Synthesis, a British firm has now come up with a breakthrough by creating carbon-neutral synthetic fuel from carbon dioxide and water vapor present in ambient air.
The firm has produced its first five liter batch of engine-ready petrol from air and is working on refining the process to end our reliance on the declining reserves of fossil fuels. The technology involves mixing air with sodium hydroxide to create sodium carbonate, which then releases pure carbon dioxide. CO2 hence produced is then made to react with hydrogen electrolyzed from water to make a hydrocarbon mixture to which some additives are added to convert it to fuel that is ready for use in any gasoline tank. Currently, the team is making use of grid electricity to power the whole process, but is confident that they can make use of renewable solar energy too.
The firm states that within two years they will be able to build a commercial-size plant to produce up to a ton of fuel each day provided they don’t run out of funds, and within 15 years they’re hoping for a refinery scale operation. The technology, though being hailed as a “game-changer”, is currently too expensive for commercial use, with the extraction cost of a single ton of CO2 costing about $650.