Sandia Lab Turns CO2 Into Fuel with Solar Help

The reactor would use reclaimed carbon dioxide emissions to create renewable synthetic fuel by combining the CO2 with water.

Published: 22-Dec-2007

In the hydrogen economy, automobiles would be powered by the simplest element on the periodic table, leveraging the element's abundance. But as the Hindenburg disaster demonstrated, hydrogen is also the most difficult element to compress into a safe, usable form. Why not instead synthesize a hydrocarbon-based fuel, such as methanol or even gasoline?
Sandia National Laboratories is building such a fuel synthesizer in a bid to harness sunlight to reverse the process of combustion. The reactor would use reclaimed carbon dioxide emissions to create renewable synthetic fuel by combining the CO2 with water.

"Rather than make hydrogen for people to use in fuel cells, we think it might make more sense to make a synthetic fuel that is already compatible with our existing [gasoline engine] infrastructure," said Rich Diver, inventor of the Counter Rotating Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (CR5). "Others are working on ways to make liquid synthetic fuels from natural gas, but we are going back a step further and looking at ways of thermochemically making the precursors for synthetic fuel using solar energy, carbon dioxide and water."

Unbelievable as it sounds, Diver claims that his solar-powered reactor could help clean up the planet by making internal combustion a reversible process. His team calls the project Sunshine to Petrol (S2P) and the envisioned synthesized product Liquid Solar Fuel.

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