TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

Zero-Carbon ICE fuel

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by Nik, Sep 28, 2011.

  1. Nik

    Nik Dreaming no more :-(

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Messages:
    244
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    http://www.airfuelsynthesis.com/news/32-fuel-from-thin-air-in-teesside.html

    Demonstration from November 2011, apparently. Until then, this reporter remains sceptical
     
  2. zack

    zack Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Messages:
    946
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and then putting it back (plus heat) is not exactly zero-carbon. I have no doubt there's quite a bit of carbon involved in the production process.
     
  3. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,173
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    My gut tells me this is a 'novelty' and the amount of electricity needed to "construct" artificial petroleum products would cause it to be very inefficient as an energy carrier (taking into account everything.) Better off using batteries and charging them directly. Battery improvements will be more worthwhile long term.

    Looking at the 'big picture', I would think algae based bio-diesel would be a better aircraft solution long term as well until the day we get the "electric jet".
     
  4. strider

    strider Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2010
    Messages:
    2,898
    Location:
    NE Oklahoma
    -<yawn>- Wake me up when we have cold fusion - that's the only way it will be economical to crack water. Those are some VERY stable bonds. for now all hydrogen comes from Natural Gas. At least the source is domestic but green it isn't.
     
  5. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    14,792
    Location:
    CA CA
    Yeah!

    Elon says it's not as hard as people are making it out to be.
     
  6. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,173
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    Prove it !
     
  7. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Messages:
    15,876
    Location:
    Stanford, California
    Don't confuse cold fusion with fusion in general. Cold fusion caused a stir in the late '80s and there were some small rumblings again about a decade back regarding sonoluminescence, but it's been largely debunked (or at least shunned).

    In the Mahalo video, Elon specifically mentioned magnetic confinement, I suppose like a tokamak. This is in contrast to inertial confinement like they're trying at NIF.
     
  8. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    14,792
    Location:
    CA CA
    I've been DOUG'ed!
     
  9. strider

    strider Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2010
    Messages:
    2,898
    Location:
    NE Oklahoma
    Sorry, I forget we have a bunch of physics nerds here. My point was that until we have extremely abundant, extremely cheap electricity, cracking water is a terrible way to get Hydrogen. Cold fusion was the first thing I thought of that satisfies the above.
     
  10. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Messages:
    15,876
    Location:
    Stanford, California
    BOO-YA!!! I knew all this physics was good for something.

    I think most people understood what you meant, and what you said made sense. Just that vfx suggested that Elon said cold fusion was easy, which would really be something since 1) that would be a bold statement even for Elon and 2) cold fusion is generally ridiculed by the physics community.

    Ironically, a cold fusion experiment is essentially an electrolysis setup. A scientist actually died violently in the early '90s while doing cold fusion research at SRI, just around the corner from us in Menlo Park. The experiment ended up producing hydrogen gas through electrolysis and exploded sending pieces of the apparatus through his face and injuring a few others.
     
  11. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Messages:
    15,876
    Location:
    Stanford, California
    It could be carbon neutral, but bothering to take it out of the atmosphere is the silly part. The atmosphere is less that 0.04% CO2 by volume. You're much better off capturing it from the exhaust of a coal plant.

    Taken as a whole this Air Fuel Synthesis would be such a massive waste of energy. If something like methanol is the end goal, you're much better off getting it from waste processing and then from biofuels.
     
  12. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,173
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    Plus claims of capturing carbon from the air is fairly empty as they intend to just burn the fuel and re-release it...
     
  13. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

    Joined:
    May 23, 2008
    Messages:
    8,546
    Location:
    Winchester, UK
    Yes, but if that cycle were 100%* efficient it would be carbon neutral.

    *a big if, obviously.
     
  14. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Messages:
    15,876
    Location:
    Stanford, California
    That's the definition of carbon neutral, though, isn't it?
     
    • Like x 1
  15. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Messages:
    15,876
    Location:
    Stanford, California
    Depends how you define efficient. You could use renewable solar energy for the entire process. Something I'd call horribly inefficient since you could probably fuel an EV for many more miles on the same energy. But since the input power was solar it could still be carbon neutral (ignoring the carbon cost of building the solar panels, of course).

    It's like those H2 advocates that seem to think renewable energy is free. It's not. It cost money and energy to build the systems to get it. There is then the opportunity cost of the non-renewable energy you could be displacing if you weren't wasting it to make H2 or "Zero-Carbon ICE fuel".
     
  16. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

    Joined:
    May 23, 2008
    Messages:
    8,546
    Location:
    Winchester, UK
    Yeah.

    I'd support using it in this way to make methanol for planes though. Then we could convert the plane fleet to carbon neutral (real carbon neutral, not some sweep-it-under-the-carpet offsetting BS) pretty easily. Then the Model S Beta carbon footprint thread would look very different :biggrin:
     
  17. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,173
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #17 TEG, Sep 29, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2011
    [ EDIT: I see Doug had a similar response as I was composing this... ]

    If they can somehow get carbon out of the air without releasing other carbon somewhere else in the process.
    I suppose if your process was 100% hydro or solar powered, and all your supplies are delivered in solar powered EVs, and all those EVs were made using carbon free power sources, etc, etc.

    I think some of it rolls back to "simple is probably better". Their process may involve some sort of pollution somewhere.

    Technology - A little about the technologies Air Fuel Synthesis will be using
    [​IMG]

    Air Fuel Synthesis technology proven by September? : Biofuels Digest
    Is there pollution and/or CO2 release involved in converting the methanol into auto/aviation fuel?
     
  18. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,173
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    Also, we ought to consider both direct air pollution and greenhouse gasses.
    For instance, if all you did is take CO2 out of the air, turn it into a hydrocarbon fuel, then burn/process it back to CO2 in the air again maybe that isn't so bad.
    But what if you take CO2 from the air, blend it with Hydrogen extracted from water, convert it into hydrocarbons, then release hydrocarbon pollution into the air.
    Maybe I am missing something here, but couldn't that be a mechanism to make smog and cause direct lung / health problems?
    It isn't just about "global warming", right?
     
  19. VolkerP

    VolkerP EU Model S P-37

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Messages:
    2,452
    Location:
    Germany
    Basically that says they have a business plan on existing technology. But this thread goes on the techy details, doubting efficiency, feasibility, and if calling it "carbon neutral" is viable. This discussion seems way behind to me.

    Space heating now is available from synthetic natural gas that was generated per hydrolysis using excessive electric wind power. It's even cheaper than fossil natural gas. Provided by my utility Windgas - Greenpeace Energy eG

    Solar Fuel runs a demonstration plant since 2009 (size: two containers) to suck carbon from air and turn it into synthetic methane. 25kW of electricity produce enough methane to power 2 CNG vehicles. Find their statement (in German) here: alpha-Anlage läuft SolarFuel GmbH - Strom aus erneuerbaren Quellen
    [​IMG]

    The new Audi strategy Audi Balanced Mobility is based on that technology and builds a 6MW demonstration plant with increased efficiency. The CO2 comes from a biomass plant.
     
  20. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

    Joined:
    May 23, 2008
    Messages:
    8,546
    Location:
    Winchester, UK

Share This Page