Car Fuel from Carbon Dioxide?
If a car is running smoothly on the road and its consuming carbon dioxide from air as fuel instead of petrol, what a dream world that would be. Researchers from the South West are working on a £1.4 million project to turn the above dream into a reality. This car of future will consume one of the root causes of greenhouse effect. What a greener world that would be. Scientists and engineers from many universities will combine their efforts to produce that dream car running on carbon dioxide. The University of Bath is leading the research. They are joined by the University of the West of England and members from the University of Bristol.
Dr Frank Marken, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry (University of Bath) said: “Current processes rely on using separate technology to capture and utilize the CO2, which makes the process very inefficient. By combining the processes the efficiency can be improved and the energy required to drive the CO2 reduction is minimized. It will be a massive challenge but we have a strong inter-disciplinary team that includes chemists, chemical engineers, biologists, and life-cycle analysts.”
Currently the project is trying to develop porous materials. Porous materials are helpful in absorbing the gas from the air. Carbon dioxide causes global warming but scientists are converting it into chemicals that can be used to make car fuel or plastics. They are utilizing the solar power for their experiments. The researchers are visualizing a future where their porous materials are the main components of a factory’s chimneys. These porous materials would be absorbing carbon dioxide pollutants from the air, reducing the effects of climate change.
Dr Petra Cameron, RCUK Fellow from the Department of Chemistry (University of Bath), said: “We hope that the use of renewable energy to recycle CO2 will be an effective way to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.” When this project will be completed it will mean that new kinds of fuels can be produced from old ‘carbon emissions’ that are generated from factories, plants and even cars themselves. The idea of ‘recycling’ carbon emitted from the fossil fuels, is not new. But people are warming up towards this idea now. Now there is no dearth of funds for such innovative ideas.
The Bath-Bristol collaboration helps in drawing talents from different streams of knowledge such as researchers from Bath’s Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (I-SEE), the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol, and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) and School of Life Sciences at the University of the West of England.
Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos, (BRL), said, “One of great advantages of this project is that it will exploit the natural abilities of microorganisms to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere and at the same time produce electricity or hydrogen, as required.”
Dr David Fermin from the University of Bristol said: “Currently, there are no large-scale technologies available for capturing and processing CO2 from air. The facts are that CO2 is rather diluted in the atmosphere and its chemical reactivity is very low. By combining clever material design with heterogeneous catalysis, electrocatalysis and biocatalysis, we aim at developing an effective carbon neutral technology.”
The project, funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is in its nascent phase but the researchers predict the new technology could make a real difference in the fight against climate change. The project is part of Research Councils UK (RCUK) cross-Council programme ‘Nanoscience: through Engineering to Application’.