With gas prices inching up, as well as, the constant reminder of the harmful environmental impact of fossil fuels, the quest to find another source of fuel has heated up considerably. Over the last few years, we have seen many amazing alternatives ranging from electricity to bio-fuel but none come even close to this latest invention - Fuel manufactured from air and water! That is exactly what engineers and scientists at U.K. based Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS) claim to have created.
In order to manufacture this magical 'green' gasoline, the team begins by extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and hydrogen from water. The two gases are then combined in a reactor. Then, with the help of a catalyst, the hydrocarbon mixture is converted into methanol, which is then transformed into usable fuel using a commonly known procedure called the MOBIL methanol-to-gasoline reaction.
Aside from the obvious advantage of using up harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, this synthetic fuel is also better for the environment. That's because it uses the exact raw materials that are required to make methanol and, therefore, does not create the harmful byproducts that result when fossil fuels are burned.
This breakthrough technique that took two years and $1.6 million pounds to develop is of course still in its infancy. In the last three months, the engineers at AFS have only been able to create a total of 5 liters (1.32 gallons) of the synthetic gasoline. However, Air Fuel Synthesis CEO Peter Harrison believes that since the method has been proven, making the fuel on a larger scale will not be that difficult. That's because the raw materials are abundantly available, and the refining process involves many of the steps that are already being used in the commercial manufacturing of other products. This means that the equipment for mass production can be just bought and assembled.
In fact, AFS is already planning a commercial refinery that will be ready for larger scale fuel production by 2015. However, the gas produced will not be sold to stations around the country, but instead be reserved for race cars and other vehicles that require special fuel.
Also since the actual cost of producing this amazing gas is not yet known, it is hard to determine whether it will ever be freely available to the general public. But the fact that something this radical has been developed is good news for all of us!
Resources: geekosystem.com, treehugger.com,newsdaily.com