Now this could be something very special. A small British company based in Stockton-on-Tees is producing petrol refined from the carbon dioxide and water vapour that’s naturally present in the air. They haven’t got much of the stuff so far – only five litres – but they reckon they can have a commercial-scale plant producing a tonne of fuel per day up and running within two years.
The petrol they can produce is purer than the product refined from oil and it can be used in an ordinary car engine. This means that our existing infrastructure of petrol stations could be used to deliver the fuel to people’s cars and any petrol-powered cars could use the fuel. It means that we wouldn’t need to buy electric cars or set up a huge new network of recharging stations for electric vehicles. It sounds like this could have some real advantages, but how could it work?
We know that burning fossil fuels puts carbon dioxide -a greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere. But what the engineers at Air Fuel Synthesis have come up with could be a radical new solution, recycling carbon dioxide from the air into fuel. At the moment, the project is still in its very early stages and they need power from the national grid to run their equipment. As most of this energy comes from burning fossil fuels in power stations, what they have developed is not a solution yet, but they hope to be able to power the process of refining petrol from the air using renewable energy in the future. This small British company is so far the only one in the world to be producing petrol this way, but the potential for really doing something about climate change if their ideas can be widely supported and adopted is immense.
Peter Harrison, Air Fuel Synthesis’ Chief Executive hopes that petrol could be produced from air at a refinery scale within the next fifteen years. Funding will be the big issue. If enough people think this is a good idea and invest in developing the technology, this could be really big. Air Fuel Synthesis may have found a way to recycle the damaging by-products of burning fossil fuels into more fuel whilst really reduce the environmental impacts of fossil fuels the same time. That’s got to be a good news story to head into the weekend with!