Could Carbon Emissions Be the Best Source of Fuel?

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Scientists who study Earth’s changing climate are clear on one thing: Even if carbon dioxide emissions are drastically reduced in the near future as technology becomes more adept, it will likely not be enough to reverse the damage caused by the CO2 already in our atmosphere.

This is where scientists F. Jeffrey Martin and William L. Kubic, Jr., of the Los Alamos National Laboratory come in. The two men have proposed a solution to climate change that would allow gas-powered vehicles to stay on the road. In a proposal presented Wednesday at the Alternative Energy Now conference, Martin and Kubic outlined what they call “Green Freedom.” The plan involves recycling excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and turning it into fuels like gasoline, methanol and jet fuel.

This may sound like a pie-in-the-sky idea, but the science is sound, and the techniques to turn carbon dioxide back into fuel already exist. Carbon-dioxide-recycling plants would blow air over a liquid solution of potassium carbonate to absorb the CO2, which could then be extracted. A few simple chemical reactions later, the once harmful emission is fuel.

The biggest challenge facing Green Freedom is powering these CO2-recycling plants. Nuclear energy seems like the most economical option, with solar taking over in the future when it becomes less expensive. The economics of the entire operation become most feasible once gas hits the $4.60/gallon mark, at which point producing it from carbon emissions would be a cheaper method than making it from crude oil.

According to Kubic and Martin, the next step will be to build a larger prototype to demonstrate the technology.

Scientists Would Turn Greenhouse Gas Into Gasoline (The New York Times)

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