Still in the theoretical stage, the concept of deriving fuel from atmospheric CO2 was developed by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratories. In this process, large amounts of air containing carbon dioxide pollutants would be exposed to liquid potassium carbonate. The CO2 in the air combines with the potassium carbonate, while the other components of the air do not. The CO2 can then be separated from the potassium compound by applying electricity. Once the CO2 is separated, it is converted to syngas and then into liquid fuels following methods used to create other synfuels [source: Martin]. Scientists at other laboratories and institutions have agreed that the process works, in theory. However, the main obstacle is that the process of isolating CO2 from the air and converting it into syngas requires massive amounts of power [source: Martin]. The Los Alamos scientists suggest nuclear power as the best option [source: Martin]. It will also require huge capital investments to take the concept from theory to execution. On the bright side, the entire process is theoretically carbon neutral. It would produce as much carbon as it consumes.
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More Great Links
- Chang, Kenneth. "Scientists Would Turn Greenhouse Gas Into Gasoline." The New York Times. Feb. 19, 2008. (Dec. 10, 2010)http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/19/science/19carb.html
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- Kunzig, Robert. "Scraping Bottom." National Geographic. March 2009. (Dec. 20, 2010)http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/03/canadian-oil-sands/kunzig-text
- Martin, F. Jeffrey and William L. Kubic. "Green Freedom: A Concept of Producing Carbon-Neutral Synthetic Fuels and Chemicals (Patent Pending)." Los Alamos National Laboratory. November 2007. (Dec. 10, 2010)http://www.lanl.gov/news/newsbulletin/pdf/Green_Freedom_Overview.pdf
- Speight, James G. "Synthetic Fuels Handbook." McGraw-Hill. 2008.
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- United States Department of Energy. "Gas to Liquids." Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center. (Dec. 10, 2010)http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/emerging_gas_liquids.html
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- United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. "About Oil Shale." Oil Shale & Tar Sands Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. (Dec. 10, 2010)http://ostseis.anl.gov/guide/oilshale/
- United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. "About Tar Sands." Oil Shale & Tar Sands Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. (Dec. 10, 2010)http://ostseis.anl.gov/guide/tarsands/index.cfm
- United States Energy Information Administration "Annual Energy Outlook 2006: Issues in Focus." Feb. 14, 2006. (Dec. 10, 2010)http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/archive/aeo06/pdf/issues.pdf
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- Van Bibber, Lawrence. "Baseline Technical and Economic Assessment of a Commercial Scale Fischer-Tropsch Liquids Facility." National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. April 9, 2007. (Dec. 10, 2010)http://www.netl.doe.gov/energy-analyses/pubs/Baseline%20Technical%20and%20Economic%20Assessment%20of%20a%20Commercial%20S.pdf
- World Coal Institute. "Coal: Liquid Fuels." October 2006. (Dec. 10, 2010)http://www.worldcoal.org/bin/pdf/original_pdf_file/coal_liquid_fuels_report(03_06_2009).pdf
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