26 January 2010

CO2 to Fuels Using Sunlight

The question remains: Can humans do better at conversion of CO2 to useful fuels and chemicals than nature has done for billions of years?

A recent newsrelease from Carbon Sciences Inc. claims the development of a new biocatalytic process to convert CO2 into methane, ethane, and propane.

This past November, Joule Biotechnologies announced an important advance in its quest to convert CO2 into hydrocarbons using solar powered genengineered microbes.

Sandia Labs is also pursuing the dream of synthetic conversion of CO2 to fuels using solar energy.

From UCSD:
Now Clifford Kubiak, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and his graduate student Aaron Sathrum have developed a prototype device that can capture energy from the sun, convert it to electrical energy and “split” carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide (CO) and oxygen. _ScienceBlog

Penn State researchers aim to use nanotubes to catalyse the reduction of CO2 to methane using sunlight as a power source.

Algal fuels companies and other microbial fuels syndicates and bioenergy corps. also rely upon CO2 for feedstock and sunlight for energy.

Problem: Carbon dioxide is a trace gas -- only 0.04% of the Earth's atmosphere. For most of the plans above to succeed, they need to tap into a concentrated source of CO2 -- such as the effluent gases from a coal plant.


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