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Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/11/2018 12:23 AM

I just came across the following article.......

A Canadian company is making liquid fuel that is carbon neutral, low cost, and made by combining CO2 sucked from the air with hydrogen made by breaking down water through renewable energy. British Columbia-based Carbon Engineering is aiming to keep the costs below $100 for each tonne of CO2 removed from the atmosphere, against $600 and above up until now.

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AIR TO FUELS™ technology combines our Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology with water electrolysis and fuels synthesis to produce liquid hydrocarbon fuels. This process combines several quickly-evolving technologies, and has three major steps. First, our DAC process captures and purifies CO₂ from atmospheric air.

Second, clean electricity (such as solar PV) is used to electrolyze water and generate hydrogen.

Third, the CO₂ and hydrogen are thermo-catalytically reacted to produce syngas, and reacted again to produce hydrocarbons. In principle, a wide variety of hydrocarbons can be generated, but our focus is predominantly on diesel and jet fuel.

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This seems like another multistep 'take from Peter to pay Paul' energy conversion con job, and not a very subtle one. Renewable energy used to electrolyse water to create hydrogen to add to carbon to create hydrocarbon fuel. AAAAAND claimed to be a carbon neutral process!!!! Really?

Thoughts?

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#1

Re: Canadian company claims breakthrough in transforming CO2 into liquid fuel

06/11/2018 6:00 AM

Artificial photosynthesis at last!

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#2

Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough In Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/11/2018 7:59 AM

Well I guess it's better than burying it, which was the last news flash...

...they sure do have a lot of artist concepts about the future.....sounds like a technology looking for government subsidy, any government subsidy....so far pretty long on fantastical ideas, but short on producing anything....perhaps a future penny pump and dump scheme is in the works here....

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05357-w

..."The company was founded in 2009 by David Keith, now a professor of public policy and applied physics at Harvard University,[4] and is now led by Cellex veteran Adrian Corless.[3] Carbon Engineering is funded by several government and sustainability-focused agencies as well as by private investors, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and oil sands financier N. Murray Edwards.[5][6][7] "...

..."In 2015, Carbon Engineering started operations of its full end-to-end pilot plant, located in Squamish, B.C. The facility is designed to capture roughly 1 tons of atmospheric CO2 per day.[7]Carbon Engineering is in process of adding equipment to turn this captured CO2 into fuels, to demonstrate the "air to fuels" concept at small scale.[13][14]

Based on the data obtained from the pilot plant, Carbon Engineering intends to scale up its technology to build commercial plants, which eventually would each have the capacity to capture 1,000,000 tons of CO2 per year.[15] At that scale, one Carbon Engineering air capture plant could negate the emissions from ~250,000 cars – either by sequestering the CO2 or by using the recycled carbon dioxide as a feedstock to produce synthetic fuel.[16] "...

Wow this all looks very expensive...Let's see 1 million tons = 250k cars ~ 275 million cars in the US that's over 1k plants...Very ambitious eh? 100 million x 1k plants = $100 billion dollars, not to mention the cost of the plants, which could easily double that figure...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_Engineering

...but of course, that's not the whole story, because cars are not the only source of Co2....

https://whatsyourimpact.org/greenhouse-gases/carbon-dioxide-emissions

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#13
In reply to #2

Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough In Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/12/2018 8:57 AM

SE: I like your first paragraph under the photo.

By the WAG method: I don't think this process will be cost effective. Government subsidies will let some folks brag about it, but that won't make it a viable process.

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#3

Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/11/2018 9:42 AM

If the hydrogen is produced from renewables it could be OK. The problem with using hydrogen directly for transort is of course the low energy density (per unit volume) compared with liquid fuels. But if the process is used to make diesel, and particulate emissions are similar to ordinary diesels that's a downside. Might be better to make petrol.

If you can believe the links, and the pilot plant is working, fine. Otherwise I would be sceptical about removing CO2 from the air. As the concentration is about 0.04% by volume, a vast volume of air needs to be handled. Maybe I missed it, but I don't remember seeing any details how it's done. Maybe another possibility is to use a source richer in CO2, eg flue gas from a fossil fuel power plant, or even building heating systems (with a lot of infrastructure!)

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#4

Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/11/2018 10:12 AM

Well, it seems kind of strange creating fuel which will be burned to retrieve a fraction of the energy used to extract and process the CO2. It would be better if the renewable energy could be used directly instead of burning the fuel.

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#5
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Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/11/2018 10:51 AM

The big plus to technology like this is that the infrastructure exists already for distribution. It won't be hard for consumers to accept as the change in how it's used is minimal.

It's also a relatively safe medium to transport the energy, i.e. as a liquid fuel. The biggest down side to hydrogen is its flammability which makes it hard to transport safely.

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#6
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Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/11/2018 10:55 AM

And its low energy density

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#9
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Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/11/2018 3:48 PM

Yes but the inefficiently generated hydrogen is being used as part of a process to create hydrocarbon fuel out of captured carbon, not used by itself as some are discussing here.

This just seems like an inefficient way to create fossel fuel instead of using oil directly, AND it is being toted as a carbon neutral process. With the staggeringly poor conversion efficiency of water electrolysis alone I don't see how this is possible. This is NOT a free process. Renewable energy generation is NOT free energy.

This almost looks like a scam with a slapped-on carbon capture theme (todays latest fad). Have we forgotten about the car water electrolyser scams already?

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#10
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Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/12/2018 8:05 AM

Indeed, it all boils down to the efficiency. The technology is useless if they spend more to make it than they put out in product.

The whole concept of creating a liquid fuel or a synthetic diesel/gasoline is based on the idea of using existing distribution infrastructure. It's a tempting path to take under the assumption that the only thing needed for success is development of the liquid fuel itself with the use of existing infrastructure for delivery.

I wish them luck, noting that they've got some high hurdles to overcome.

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#8
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Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/11/2018 3:38 PM

My thoughts exactly.

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#15
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Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/12/2018 10:06 AM

But it's a big IF! If it were possible (another big IF, unless this Canadian scheme is a goer) to produce liquid fuel using renewable resources, the advantages would be so great as to tolerate some inefficiency.

If all or most cars were battery-powered I would guess producing the batteries would have a big environmental impact.

That's my take anyway.

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#7

Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/11/2018 11:23 AM

Nuclear power plants and electric cars would eliminate the production of the Co2 to begin with, kill 2 birds with one stone....

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#11
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Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/12/2018 8:10 AM

Well at about 69% of it. Industrial and Other categories may or may not be reduced.

And, what about air travel? Are you proposing an electric 777 or A380?

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#14
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Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/12/2018 10:01 AM

Well that one may take some time, maybe put everyone in underground tubes and on high speed trains, and free the skies....

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#12
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Re: Canadian Company Claims Breakthrough in Transforming CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

06/12/2018 8:49 AM

I agree. And fast nuclear is maybe 100 times better than thermal nuclear.

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