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

 

Errors Found: Electricity Authority Dumps Transmission Pricing Modelling

The Electricity Authority is ditching the cost-benefit analysis at the heart of its controversial attempt to find a new way to divide up costs for the national grid after finding an expanding range of serious computational errors in the work by Australian consultancy Oakley Greenwood. More>>

ALSO:

New Record: Migrant Arrivals At 129,500 A Year

Annual net migration has been steadily increasing since 2012. "This was mainly due to the rising number of migrant arrivals to New Zealand," population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said. "Fewer migrant departures also contributed to the increase in net migration." More>>

ALSO:

Launched: NASA's Super Pressure Balloon Takes Flight From NZ

NASA successfully launched its football-stadium-sized, heavy-lift super pressure balloon (SPB) from Wanaka, New Zealand, at10:50 a.m. Tuesday, April 25 (6:50 p.m. April 24 in U.S. Eastern Time), on a mission designed to run 100 or more days floating at 110,000 feet (33.5 km) about the globe in the southern hemisphere's mid-latitude band. More>>

ALSO:

Trade Agreements: TPP Minus US Starting To Gain Ground

The Japanese government is picking up the pace on reviving the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment deal, with talks scheduled next month among the 11 countries left in the pact after the withdrawal by the US after the election of president Donald Trump. More>>

ALSO:

PACER:

Prices Up 2.2%: Annual Inflation Highest In Over Five Years

"Rising petrol prices along with the annual rise in cigarette and tobacco tax lifted inflation," prices senior manager Jason Attewell said. "Petrol prices in New Zealand are closely linked to global oil prices, and cigarettes and tobacco taxes rise in the March quarter each year". More>>

ALSO:

Undertaxed? NZ Income Tax Rate Second Lowest Among Developed Nations

New Zealand workers pay the second smallest portion of their income to the government among developed nations and less than half the average ratio of their Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development peers. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news