It’s true. British scientists at Air Fuel Synthesis have successfully produced just over a gallon of gasoline using carbon dioxide from air and hydrogen from water. However, according to the Independent, “the company hopes that within two years it will build a larger, commercial-scale plant capable of producing a ton of petrol a day.” The company also plans to create green jet fuel using the same technology.
“There’s nobody else doing it in this country or indeed overseas as far as we know. It looks and smells like petrol but it’s a much cleaner and clearer product than petrol derived from fossil oil,” Peter Harrison, the company’s chief executive, told the Independent.
“We don’t have any of the additives and nasty bits found in conventional petrol, and yet our fuel can be used in existing engines,” he said.
According to Mr. Harrison, the fuel Air Fuel Synthesis produces by this process could be used as a drop-in fuel, meaning vehicles wouldn’t have to be adapted to use it, and the existing transportation infrastructure could be used.
The initial goal is to blend the gasoline with conventional fuel, aiming for a refinery-scale operation within the next 15 years.
According to the Independent, “Other companies are working on ways of improving the technology of carbon capture, which is considered far too costly to be commercially viable as it costs up to £400 for capturing one ton of carbon dioxide.”
But the price of new technology is always high initially, dropping dramatically with mass adaptation. As Professor Klaus Lackner of Columbia University told the Independent, “I bought my first CD in the 1980s and it cost $20 but now you can make one for less than 10 cents. The cost of a light bulb has fallen 7,000-fold during the past century.”
The ability to create gasoline from thin air may sound too good to be true but it’s already a reality, even if only on a small scale. This technological advance is exciting, but because commercial scale production of this fuel is still far off we need many more like-minded people with other great ideas and innovations in alternative fuel technology. We will continue to follow the progress of Air Fuel Synthesis on this exciting project, which certainly has the potential to reduce dependence on oil in the United States… and the world!