CO2 to Carbon Monoxide and Then to Methanol and Gasoline
Using concentrated solar energy for power, a research team from Sandia National Laboratories is building a prototype device intended to chemically “reenergize” carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide using concentrated solar power. Carbon monoxide could then be used to serve as a building block to synthesize a liquid combustible fuel, such as methanol or even gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
The prototype device called the Counter Rotating Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (CR5) is designed to break one of the carbon-oxygen bonds in the carbon dioxide molecule to form a carbon monoxide molecule and oxygen in two distinct steps. It’s a major piece of an approach to converting carbon dioxide into fuel from sunlight.
Sandia’s Solar Furnace. Click image for more info.
Rich Diver is the inventor, and explains the original idea for the device was to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen could then fuel a potential hydrogen economy. Then Sandia researchers came up with the idea to use the CR5 to break down carbon dioxide, just as it would water. Over the past year they have shown proof of concept and are completing a prototype device that will use concentrated solar energy to reenergize carbon dioxide or water, the products of combustion. This will form carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and oxygen, which ultimately could be used to synthesize liquid fuels in an integrated S2P system.
The press release called it “reverse combustion.”
This invention, though probably a good 15 to 20 years away from being on the market, holds a real promise.