Saturday, 14 March 2009

CO2-to-Fuel Technology

Carbon Sciences(CABN) is developing a breakthrough technology to transform CO2 emissions into fuels such as gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. Innovating at the intersection of chemical engineering and bio-engineering disciplines, it is developing a highly scalable biocatalytic process to meet the fuel needs of the world.The fuels we use today, such as gasoline and jet fuel, are made up of chains of hydrogen and carbon atoms aptly called hydrocarbons. In general, the greater the number of carbon atoms there are in a hydrocarbon molecule, the greater the energy content of that fuel. To create fuel, hydrogen and carbon atoms must be bonded together to create hydrocarbon molecules. These molecules can then be used as basic building blocks to produce various gaseous and liquid fuels.Due to its high reactivity, carbon atoms do not usually exist in a pure form, but as parts of other molecules. CO2 is one of the most prevalent and basic sources of carbon atoms. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most stable molecules. This means that it may require a great deal of energy to break apart CO2 and extract carbon atoms for making new hydrocarbons. This high energy requirement has made CO2 to fuel transformation technologies uneconomical in the past. However, Carbon Sciences is developing a proprietary process that requires significantly less energy than other approaches that have been tried. Also, with the global demand for fuel and price of oil projected to rise continuously in the foreseeable future, the economics have changed in favor of certain innovative lower energy approaches, such as Carbon Sciences' breakthrough technology.

Some of the known approaches for CO2 to fuel transformation such as direct photolysis, chemically reacting carbon dioxide gas (CO2) with hydrogen gas (H2) to create methane or methanol are not economically viable in creating transportation fuels for global consumption.By innovating at the intersection of chemical engineering and bio-engineering, they have discovered a low energy and highly scalable process to transform large quantities of CO2 into gaseous and liquid fuels using organic biocatalysts. The key to our CO2-to-Fuel approach lies in a proprietary multi-step biocatalytic process. Instead of using expensive inorganic catalysts, such as zinc, gold or zeolite, with traditional high energy catalytic chemical processes, the process uses inexpensive, renewable biomolecules to catalyze certain chemical reactions required to transform CO2 and water (H2O) into fuel molecules. Of greatest significance is that the process occurs at low temperature and low pressure, thereby requiring far less energy than other approaches.The energy efficient biocatalytic processes which the technology makes use of actually occur in certain micro-organisms where carbon atoms, extracted from CO2, and hydrogen atoms, extracted from H2O, are combined to create hydrocarbon molecules.The technology allows these processes to operate on a very large industrial scale through advance nano-engineering of the biocatalysts and highly efficient process design.

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