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New technology can produce 'petrol from air'

Last updated on: October 22, 2012 08:30 IST

New technology can produce 'petrol from air'

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A small British firm claimed to have developed a revolutionary new technology that can produce petrol using just air and electricity.

A company in the north of England has developed the "air capture" technology to create synthetic petrol which experts have hailed as a potential "game-changer" in the battle against climate change and a saviour for the world's energy crisis.


The technology, presented to a London engineering conference this week, works by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, The Telegraph reported.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Air Fuel Synthesis.

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The 'petrol from air' technology involves taking sodium hydroxide and mixing it with carbon dioxide before 'electrolysing' the sodium carbonate that it produces to form pure carbon dioxide.

Hydrogen is then produced by electrolysing water vapour captured with a dehumidifier.

The company, Air Fuel Syndication, uses the carbon dioxide and hydrogen to produce methanol which in turn is passed through a gasoline fuel reactor, creating petrol. 

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Image: Air Fuel Synthesis process.
Photographs: Courtesy, AIr Fuel Synthesis.

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Company officials claimed to have produced five litres of petrol in less than three months from a small refinery in Stockton-on-Tees, Teesside.

The fuel that is produced can be used in any regular petrol tank and, if renewable energy is used to provide the electricity it could become "completely carbon neutral".

The company hopes to build a large plant, which could produce more than a tonne of petrol every day, within two years and a refinery size operation within the next 15 years.

Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) officials admitted that while the described technology is "too good to be true but it is true", and said that it could prove to be a "game-changer" in the battle against climate change. 

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Image: Peter Harrison, CEO (R) and Investor Relations Director Graham Truscott.
Photographs: Courtesy, Air Fuel Synthesis.
Tags: , Teesside

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Stephen Tetlow, the IMechE chief executive, hailed the breakthrough as "truly groundbreaking".

"It has the potential to become a great British success story, which opens up a crucial opportunity to reduce carbon emissions," he was quoted as saying by the paper.

"Air capture technology ultimately has the potential to become a game-changer in our quest to avoid dangerous climate change," Dr Tim Fox, the organisation's head of energy and environment, added.

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Image: Stephen Tetlow (IMechE Chief Executive), Peter Harrison (AFS,CEO), Tim Fox (IMechE Energy and Environment Director) and Tony Marmont (AFS Founder) in front of the facility and the CO2 air capture tower.
Photographs: Courtesy, Air Fuel Synthesis.

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Peter Harrison, the company's 58-year-old chief executive said that he was "excited" about the technology's potential, which "uses renewable energy in a slightly different way".

"People do find it unusual when I tell them what we are working on and realise what it means. It is an opportunity for a technology to make an impact on climate change and make an impact on the energy crisis facing this country and the world, said Mr Harrison, a civil engineer from Darlington, County Durham.

"It looks and smells like petrol but it is much cleaner and we don't have any nasty bits," he said.


Image: Peter Harrison, CEO, Air Fuel Synthesis.
Photographs: Courtesy, Air Fuel Synthesis.

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