Diesel made from carbon dioxide and water

Audi Fuel

Audi Fuel

German car manufacturer Audi has reportedly invented a carbon-neutral diesel fuel, made solely from water, carbon dioxide and renewable energy sources. And the crystal clear ‘e-diesel’ is already being used to power the Audi A8 owned by the country’s Federal Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka.

The creation of the fuel is a huge step forward for sustainable transport, but the fact that it’s being backed by an automotive giant is even more exciting. Audi has now set up a pilot plant in Dresden, Germany, operated by clean tech company Sunfire, which will pump out 160 litres of the synthetic diesel every day in the coming months.

 Their base product, which they’re calling ‘blue crude’ is created using a three-step process. The first step involves harvesting renewable energy from sources such as wind, solar and hydropower. They then use this energy to split water into oxygen and pure hydrogen, using a process known as reversible electrolysis.

This hydrogen is then mixed with carbon monoxide (CO), which is created from carbon dioxide (CO2) that’s been harvested from the atmosphere. The two react at high temperatures and under pressure, resulting in the production of the long-chain hydrocarbon compounds that make up the blue crude.

Once it’s been refined, the resulting e-diesel can be mixed in with our current diesel fuel, or used on its own to power cars in a more sustainable way.


Source:  sciencealert.com

Greenhouse Gas More Potent Than CO2

Newly Detected Greenhouse Gas Is 7,000 Times More Potent Than CO2:

Newly Detected Greenhouse Gas Is 7,000 Times More Potent Than CO2

Newly Detected Greenhouse Gas Is 7,000 Times More Potent Than CO2

A greenhouse gas that is thought to have a potent impact on global warming was detected in trace amounts in the atmosphere for the first time, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Toronto discovered very small amounts of an industrial chemical, known as perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), in the atmosphere. While only traces of PFTBA were measured, the chemical has a much higher potential to affect climate change on a molecule-by-molecule basis than carbon dioxide (CO2), the most significant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, and a major contributor to global warming, said study co-author Angela Hong, of the University of Toronto’s department of chemistry. 

“We look at potency on a per-molecule basis, and what makes this molecule interesting is that, on a per-molecule basis, it’s very high, relative to other compounds in the atmosphere”.


Potency measured

This potency is measured as radiative efficiency, which describes how effectively a molecule is at preventing long-wave radiation from escaping back into space. The higher the radiative efficiency, the greater that molecule can influence climate. This value is then multiplied by the greenhouse gas’s atmospheric concentration to determine its total climate impact..

“It takes into consideration where it would exist in the atmosphere, how it absorbs heat, and what else is in the atmosphere,” Hong explained. “It’s not an intrinsic property; it’s a measure of how it would behave in the Earth system.”

In these meteorological terms, PFTBA has the highest potential to affect climate of all known chemicals to date, the researchers said.

“Calculated over a 100-year time frame, a single molecule of PFTBA has the equivalent climate impact as 7,100 molecules of CO2,” Hong said.

But, it’s important to note that the amount of PFTBA in the atmosphere is still far less than global concentrations of carbon dioxide, she added.

“If we had more [PFTBA] in the atmosphere, we’d see more warming,” she said. “This is very potent on a per-molecule basis, but there’s very little of it in the atmosphere.”

Just a pinch of PFTBA

For the study, the researchers collected atmospheric data from November 2012 to December 2012, and measured the proportion of PFTBA in the atmosphere at 0.18 parts per trillion. This means that for every 1 trillion air molecules, less than a full molecule of PFTBA is present. For comparison, the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million earlier this year.

PFTBA has been used in electrical equipment since the mid-1900s. So far, there are no policies in place to regulate its use, particularly within the context of climate change, Hong said.

There are also no known ways to destroy or remove PFTBA from the atmosphere, and the chemical has a very long life span. Molecules of PFTBA could linger in the lower atmosphere for hundreds of years, according to the researchers.

Yet, much is still unknown about the chemical’s history, including whether concentrations of PFTBA have changed over time.

“Our measurements are snapshots within the November to December 2012 period, so we can only see how things varied during that time,” Hong said. “We don’t have any historical measurements, so we can’t project backward or forward.”

The researchers hope their findings encourage others to study the chemical’s behavior, and how it could affect global warming.

“This work is the first measurement ever, but we’re not in the monitoring business,” Hong said. “It would be really nice if we could get other people to measure and monitor PFTBA.”

Gasoline made from thin air

Engineers create gasoline from thin air:

 British engineers create gasoline from thin air

British engineers create gasoline from thin air

Experts hailed the breakthrough as a potential “game-changer” as scientists seek to solve the world’s energy crisis. The small company from the north England has developed “air capture” technology which creates synthetic petrol with only air and electricity. Company chiefs say they have produced five litres of petrol in less than three months at a small refinery in Stockton-on-Tees, Teesside by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They now hope to build a large plant generating more than a tonne of petrol per day within two years – and a REFINERY size operation within the next 15 years. The fuel works in any petrol tank and promises to be “completely carbon neutral” so long as renewable energy is used to provide the electricity. The technology, pioneered by company Air Fuel Synthesis, was presented to a London engineering conference this week. It mixes sodium hydroxide with carbon dioxide before zapping the resulting sodium carbonate with electricity, to form pure carbon dioxide. At the same time, hydrogen is produced by electrolysing water vapour captured with a dehumidifier.


Scientists hope it could help solve the energy crisis

Breakthrough … scientists hope it could help solve the energy crisis

The carbon dioxide and hydrogen are then used to produce methanol which in turn is passed through a gasoline fuel reactor, creating petrol. The £1.1m project has been in development for the past two years and is being funded by a group of anonymous philanthropists. They unnamed sponsors hope it could prove to be a lucrative way of creating renewable energy. Stephen Tetlow, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers 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 said. “It also has the potential to reduce our exposure to an increasingly volatile global energy market.”