Top 8 Synthetic Fuels

Fuel from Atmospheric Carbon

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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