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Proven one-step process to convert CO2 and water directly into liquid hydrocarbon fuel

From left: Mohammad Fakrul Islam, Frederick MacDonnell, Wilaiwan Chanmanee and Brian Dennis, all of UTA. (Image Courtesy: Google)

There has been substantial rise in the CO2 levels with the advent of increasing commercialization and use of different fossil fuels. This increased CO2 gives rise to many of the environmental problems which includes global warming, melting of the glaciers, etc. Thus great efforts are being required to eradicate this problem of increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. There has been constant research going on for getting rid of this increasing concentration of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A team of chemists and engineers from the University of Texas located at the Arlington is being claiming to have developed a procedure to convert directly into usable liquid hydrocarbon fuels with water using concentrated light, heat and high pressures. The researchers have clarified this as one of the simplest process which will enable sustainable fuel technology. This technology will potentially help in removing the carbon dioxide concentrations from the environment limiting its concentrations which will be used for making of the fuels. This process will also revert back the oxygen into the system in form of by-product of the reaction.

The team working on this study has received a 2.6 millions in terms of grants and corporate funding’s.

The making of the fuel from the greenhouse gases. (Image Courtesy: Google)
The making of the hydrocarbon fuel from the greenhouse gases. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Converted products

Frederick MacDonnell, UTA interim chair of chemistry and biochemistry commenting over the same says that the process which we have adopted is having an important advantage as using the gas or the hydrogen powered vehicle. The hydrocarbons which is being produced by this process is being the same which is being used in the cars. Thus there will not be any of the need in the supply and distribution of the current fuel distribution systems.

The one step conversion process is being carried out in a photothermochemical flow reactor which will be operating at the temperatures of 180 to 200 degree Celsius and pressure of up to 6 atmospheres. Brian Dennis, UTA professor of Mechanical and Aerospace engineering commenting over the concept says that they will be using the direct concentrated light energy for the direct conversion of the carbon dioxide and water into the desired products. This concentrated light being focused will be generating the high-energy intermediate products whose energy will be driving the reaction further over the chain formation reactions of the carbon. Thus it will be producing the hydrocarbons in a single step process.

The basic advantage of this process includes that the carbon dioxide is being absorbed from the environment which is not beneficial for the global warming. With this the byproducts which is being produced includes the hydrocarbon fuel which can directly be used as other fuels and the other byproduct is oxygen which is quite beneficial for our environment. Thus it is being serving two benefits of converting the carbon dioxide back into oxygen and providing a form of hydrocarbon fuel.

The complete process of converting the carbon dioxide and water in to hydrocarbon and oxygen. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Supporting materials for the reaction

The catalyst being used for the reaction includes a hybrid photo chemical and thermochemical catalyst which is being used in the reaction is being based over the titanium dioxide. It is one kind of white powder which is not capable enough of absorbing entire light spectrum which makes it appear white in color.

MacDonnell commenting over the process says that the next step from their side was to select the solar spectrum of light. Using the solar spectrum for the reaction greatly helped in using the entire spectrum of the incident light and being working towards the goal of an sustainable solar liquid fuel. The researchers have thought of using the parabolic mirrors for effectively concentrating the solar radiations over the catalyst bed. This will enable the process to progress by receiving both the heat and the photo excitation. Excess heat being received could also be used for driving the related operations for the solar fuels facility which includes the product separation and water purification.

Alternate sources of fuels

MacDonnell also envisioned on producing the clean fuel by the reaction with the water to obtain the clean hydrogen fuel by means of the solar energy. The heat being generated by means of mirrors from the solar light is being used to split the water molecules into its constituent parts that includes the hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen which is being produced provides a means of using the clean form the fuel.

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