Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Producing fuel from air and electricity

UC lecturer researching into the possibility of producing fuel from air and electricity

October 31, 2012

A University of Canterbury (UC) lecturer is researching the possibility of producing fuel from air and electricity.

The technology removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produces methanol, a liquid fuel similar to petrol.

UC researcher Dr Aaron Marshall said efficient conversion of carbon dioxide into methanol would revolutionise energy technologies. He has received a Marsden Fund study grant to look into cutting-edge technology.

``We still need energy to carry out the process. Basically we make fuel (methanol) from carbon dioxide in the air and electricity. But in principle we would not need oil/petrol if this could be done efficiently on a large scale using renewable energy like wind or solar power. Methanol can be used in normal car engines.

``Theoretically not much energy is required. Most people think carbon dioxide is a very stable compound that would be really hard to turn back into fuel but actually only 1.2 volts of electricity is required. Unfortunately the reaction is complex which means we need to use much more energy than theory suggests.

``Imagine driving to Lyttelton from Christchurch. Both places are at a similar altitude so it shouldn’t require too much energy to get there. But if the only path is over the Port hills, then you need lots of energy to climb the hill.’’ “We are basically looking for the Lyttelton tunnel”

``If we burn methanol, we get carbon dioxide, water and energy as products. We can produce methanol by making this “normal burning process” go backwards on the surface of a catalyst by using electricity.

We will use a combination of electrochemical and surface structure analysis tools to find out what the “sweet spot” looks like on this catalyst to understand how to make the process better.

Renewable energy (such as solar and wind power) is difficult to store, especially for use in transportation. One potential solution is to use this renewable energy to re-convert CO2 from the atmosphere back into a fuel such as methanol.

This effectively results in carbon-neutral energy storage. At present only a fraction of the energy used in the process results in methanol production, with the majority of the energy wasted as heat or used up through the production of unwanted by-products.

This project aims to investigate how to make the process commercially and industrially feasible.

Dr Marshall will be collaborating with Professor David Harrington from the University of Victoria in Canada - an alumnus of UC - who has expertise in this area.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Must Sell 20 Petrol Stations: Z Cleared To Buy Caltex Assets

Z Energy is allowed to buy the Caltex and Challenge! petrol station chains but must sell 19 of its retail sites and one truck-stop, the Commerce Commission has ruled in a split decision that acknowledges possible retail price coordination between fuel retailers occurs in some regions. More>>

ALSO:

Huntly: Genesis Extends Life Of Coal-Fuelled Power Station To 2022

Genesis Energy will keep its two coal and gas-fired units at Huntly Power Station operating until 2022, having previously said they'd be closed by 2018, after wringing a high price from other electricity generators who wanted to keep them as back-up. More>>

ALSO:

Dammed If You Do: Ruataniwha Irrigation Scheme Hits Farmer Uptake Targets

Enough Hawke's Bay farmers have signed up for water from the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme for it to go ahead as long as a cornerstone institutional capital investor can be found to back it, its regional council promoter announced. More>>

ALSO:

Reserve Bank: OCR Stays At 2.25%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2.25 percent, in a decision traders had said could go either way, while predicting inflation will pick up as the slump in oil prices washes out of the data and capacity pressures start to build in the economy. More>>

ALSO:

Export Values Down: NZ Posts Biggest Annual Trade Deficit In 7 Years

New Zealand has recorded its biggest annual trade deficit since April 2009, reflecting weaker prices of agricultural commodities such as dairy products, beef and lamb, and increased imports of vehicles and machinery. More>>

ALSO:

Currency Events: NZ's New $5 Note Wins International Banknote Award

New Zealand’s new Brighter Money $5 note has been named Banknote of the Year in a prestigious international competition. The $5 note was awarded the IBNS Banknote of the Year title at the International Bank Note Society’s annual meeting. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news