Monday, January 7, 2008

Closing the Circle

I was surprised to read about this on Wired as I was thinking about it just a few weeks ago:

One of the first things I learned at Chemistry classes was that: nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything just transforms. (Thanks Lavoisier)

So, considering our dependency on fossil fuel, why shouldn't we be able to "transform" the resulting products of combustion back into the fuel we require?
(At least in theory that should be possible to do using "clean" power sources - although I won't argue regarding how much better it would be to use clean power sources right from the start.)

Chemical reaction still provide much higher "power" than any existing technology - just look at at the Space Shuttle, it burns chemical components, and even so it still requires solid rocket boosters for extra help. I can't imagine when a pure "electrical" space shuttle will be able to reach orbit - at least no until we get "anti-gravity" devices - or some other major breakthrough.

That how I start wondering - using a clean power source, we should be able to revert the resulting components back into its original form. Sure it would require a lot more energy - but if it came from renewable and "clean" sources, what would be the problem?

The Sunlight to Petrol, or S2P, project essentially reverses the combustion process, recovering the building blocks of hydrocarbons. They can then be used to synthesize liquid fuels like methanol or gasoline. Researchers said the technology already works and could help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, although large-scale implementation could be a decade or more away.

"This is about closing the cycle," said Ellen Stechel, manager of Sandia's Fuels and Energy Transitions department. "Right now our fossil fuels are emitting CO2. This would help us manage and reduce our emissions and put us on the path to a carbon-neutral energy system."

The idea of recycling carbon dioxide is not new, but has generally been considered too difficult and expensive to be worth the effort. But with oil prices exceeding $100 per barrel and concerns about global warming mounting, researchers are increasingly motivated to investigate carbon recycling. Los Alamos Renewable Energy, for example, has developed a method of using CO2 to generate electricity and fuel.

(full article here)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Amazon Store