CO2 to Gasoline, Fuel Using Enzymes – Carbon Sciences’ Biocatalysts

This entry was posted by Thursday, 28 January, 2010
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Read recently about the announcement from Carbon Sciences that it has developed a breakthrough technology to recycle carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into gasoline and other portable fuels.

The company’s current approach is an enzyme-based process used to transform CO2 into low-level fuels, such as methanol. According to the company, it’s team has now discovered a new and more cost efficient process to produce gasoline, a high-level fuel, from CO2. The key features of this breakthrough includes (1) the of use flue emissions directly from coal-fired power plants or industrial factories, (2) the use of brackish water, eliminating the need for distilled freshwater as the source of hydrogen and reaction medium, (3) mild operating conditions, eliminating the need for capital intensive stainless steel equipment, and (4) a highly scalable system.

I was able to get some more insights on the technology and process, but not surprisingly, a lot more – from the company’s web page. See also here.

The path that the company is pursuing – a biocatalytic process to obtain useful hydrocarbons from CO2 – is exciting, but there are few details on the specifics, as well as data on energy required for the entire process.

Well, to its credit, the company does say the following:”By innovating at the intersection of chemical engineering and bio-engineering, we have discovered a low energy and highly scalable process to recycle 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, our process uses inexpensive, renewable biomolecules to catalyze certain chemical reactions required to transform CO2 and water (H2O) into fuel molecules. Of greatest significance, our process occurs at low temperature and low pressure, thereby requiring far less energy than other approaches.” (Source)

But still, I think their research is at an initial stage and unless we see results from larger-scale commercial efforts with benchmarked data, it will be difficult to know whether indeed this interesting idea can be a serious solution to CO2 capture (I doubt whether it can be called sequestration because the CO2 will be released when the gasoline burns).

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