Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making Petroleum from Thin Air

A serious science and environmental post, would you believe it?

It's not April.  I checked my calendar and everything.  So imagine my surprise when I read this.  

It looks like the Brits have found a way of making "clean" pure petroleum out of thin air.  It sounds  was to good to be true.  

What are the ingredients?  Well air for a start, or the carbon it in anyway.  Plus sodium hydroxide (lye or caustic soda), hydrogen and electricity.

Caustic soda can be made from seawater using electricity, but there are lots of other ways to make it.  Hydrogen can be made from water using electricity. 

The carbon comes from CO2 in the air, so not only can they get the petroleum from the air, they are also scrubbing CO2 out of the air at the same time.....   So get this, every gallon of carbon dioxide from "air fuel" burned is offset by the carbon dioxide used to make it.  

If the electricity used to make it comes from "renewable resources" or nuclear then it is absolutely carbon neutral.  So much greener than bio fuel as it does not waste valuable land that could be used to grow food.  

If you think about it the technology really makes all vehicles electric powered with none of the disadvantages. 

Another big bonus is fuel independence and an assured domestically produced supply.  Maybe a reduced need for oil and reduced risk from oil spills.  Maybe cheap fuel at stable prices?

The developers say a larger (test?) plant could produce more than a metric ton of petroleum a day, within two years.  With funding they think refinery scale operations could be running inside of 15 years.  

Shouldn't some of the green tax money and "Global warming" funding be switched to this immediately?  If CO2 really does cause global warming then this technology would be doing the world a service even if it was only used to sequester the petroleum.  It could stop global warming in its tracks and even reverse it. 

Putting my cynical hard hat on.  So that's the Climate change lobby/industry gravy train and the oil companies threatened by it.  Two good reason for it not to happen.  With the lobbying power they have I expect it will be made illegal.  

But if CO2 isn't causing global warming then it is a way for the climate change industry to put off everyone finding out for the longest time and keep the dollars flowing and the oil industry would be better off changing horses and getting on board with it.......