With fossil fuels expected to possibly last no longer than a century and the rising cost of these energy sources, there is a dire need to seek alternate means of energy that is both cheap and not only clean but green. Of course, with a range of alternatives, there are certainly options, but none, however, are able to address immediate energy needs and nearly all modern transportation still rely on the burning of fossil fuels to power their engines. But while an automobile’s combustion engine seems primed to work on fossil fuels alone, producing this precious resource is not really a question of freaking it out of thin air, but mining it as a resource. Or is it?
According to a British firm, they have been able, for the first time, to create literally create petrol out of thin air, using a pioneering technique that creates petrol from the most basic of components, air and water. The firm, the Stockton-on-Tees-based Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS), has claimed that they have devised a technique by which they are able to create petrol by using the carbon dioxide in air and water vapor and said that since August, has made around 5 liters using their small set up.
The technique in itself involves combing sodium hydroxide with air, after which, the resultant sodium carbonate is electrolyzed to release pure carbon dioxide. This is then reacted with hydrogen, itself electrolyzed from water, to produce a rudimentary hydrocarbon, which depending on the type of fuel required, can be adjusted accordingly. The resulting product, according to AFS, can be used directly as petrol or can be mixed with additives or other types of fuels.
AFS’ potential breakthrough was revealed at a conference of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London last week and speaking about it, , the company's chief executive, said, “We are converting renewable electricity into a more versatile, usable and storable form of energy, namely liquid transport fuels. We think that by the end of 2014, provided we can get the funding going, we can be producing petrol using renewable energy and doing it on a commercial basis.”
Mr. Harrison further said that in around two years’ time, AFS will be able to make petrol using renewable sources and in around 15 years, expand to refinery scale. Tim Fox, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ head of energy and the environment, also commented, saying, “It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. It uses well-known and well-established components but what is exciting is that they have put the whole thing together and shown that it can work.”