AFS: Air to Fuel Syntesis technology available soon?

“Looks like fuel, smells like fuel, it’s not drilled from underground”, states Fiona Trott from BBC News. “The question is if this can be manufactured?”. This is the energy-related news more covered from media of the day. Let’s clean up the desk and try to understand.

The news first, issued from Independent: Air Fuel Synthesis – a small company in the U.K. – claims to have produced the first 5 liters of petrol from air. The second news is that their process has been supported from Institution of Mechanical Engineers (ImechE).
There is a third good news: this technology could be implemented in existing or future CO2 capture and storage technology because CO2 is ingredient as important in AVS fuel from air as mascarpone in Tiramisù.
Unfortunately we need another ingredient – hydrogen – and the best way to produce today is still electrolysis. So we need electricity to produce this fuel. This is one of the leak point of the process. Of course there are many green technologies to do this like wind or solar powered electrolysis units.
“It uses well-known and well-established components but what is exciting is that they have put the whole thing together and shown that it can work” said Tim Fox, head of energy and the environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, as report on Independent. For example, Princetown University in the U.S: published in 1994 a study for the production of Methanole from CO2 and – as underlined from BBC – this process “has more recently been refined and spun into a company called Liquid Light that is aiming to do the same thing. In Iceland, Carbon Recycling International opened a plant at the end of 2011 drawing waste CO2 from a power station, with capacity to produce five million litres of methanol per year”.
What is new is that “Air Fuel Synthesis build on these methods by turning the methanol into something more like petrol, using processes well entrenched already in the petroleum industry.”
AFS plans to build a one-ton-a-day unit by 2015.
“The important thing however is the ratio between energy in and energy out”. Until you can “market this project at a price that is affordable it is a bit of a pipe dream”.
The dream of storaging energy from renewable sources. A dream we need to become true as soon as possible.

Links:
Air Fuel Synthesis
Independent: “Pioneering scientists turn fresh air into petrol”
BBC: “Petrol produced from air and water”
BBC NEWS: “Petrol from air: Will it make a difference?”
1994 Article from Princetown University: “A new homogeneous electrocatalyst for the reduction of carbon dioxide to methanol at low overpotential”
Liquid Light
Carbon Recycling International


 

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