Energy

MIT membrane produces fuel from CO2 emissions

MIT membrane produces fuel fro...
A membrane developed by MIT researchers can isolate carbon monoxide from carbon dioxide, allowing polluting greenhouse gas emissions to be turned into useful alternate fuels
A membrane developed by MIT researchers can isolate carbon monoxide from carbon dioxide, allowing polluting greenhouse gas emissions to be turned into useful alternate fuels
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A membrane developed by MIT researchers can isolate carbon monoxide from carbon dioxide, allowing polluting greenhouse gas emissions to be turned into useful alternate fuels
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A membrane developed by MIT researchers can isolate carbon monoxide from carbon dioxide, allowing polluting greenhouse gas emissions to be turned into useful alternate fuels

Researchers at MIT have developed a new membrane-based system that can convert carbon dioxide emissions into useful alternate fuels. The process has been effectively demonstrated on a small-scale and the researchers hope to ultimately adapt the system to conventional fossil fuel-based power plants.

Made of lanthanum, calcium, and iron oxide, the membrane is designed to separate out oxygen from carbon dioxide, leaving behind carbon monoxide that can then be turned into a variety of useful fuels.

The process requires a significant energy input to produce the up to 990° C (1,814° F) temperatures needed to separate the carbon dioxide input into oxygen and carbon monoxide. But the researchers suggest this heat energy could be provided by either, "solar energy or by waste heat, some of which could come from the power plant itself."

A pragmatic hypothetical outcome would be to incorporate the process into a natural gas power plant by adding an entirely new fuel output stream to the plant. The carbon dioxide produced by generating electricity from the burning gas would then be fed through the membrane system, which itself would be powered by a small stream of the original natural gas.

The carbon monoxide output could then be mixed with hydrogen to produce syngas, which can be used to generate electricity, as a fuel in internal combustion engines, or fed into the existing gas distribution network. This process would create a new commercial output for the power plant while also reducing greenhouse emissions.

It is worth noting that this research is co-funded by Shell Oil, which hopefully points to the process finding a real, practical outcome. After all, if the big fossil fuel companies can find a way to turn their carbon dioxide emissions into a positive revenue source then its a real win-win scenario for everyone.

The research was published in the journal ChemSusChem.

Source: MIT via Eurekalert

11 comments
Reece Agland
The power consumotion of carbon capture technologies is what makes them ineffective. If they want this to work they will need methods that don't require massive power uses.
Catweazle
I have a theory that if I take an electric motor and a generator, put a really big pulley on the motor and a small pulley on the generator, so that the motor drives the generator really fast, it will generate more energy than the motor takes to drive it. I reckon it will only cost around $1,000,000 to prove my theory will save the Planet from the evil CO2 emitters. Where do I apply for my grant?
watersworm
So, long life to gas power plant stations (and coal and oil ?)
DaveWesely
How can turning carbon dioxide into fuel, by burning more fuel, in order to burn the regenerated fuel - " which can be used to generate electricity, as a fuel in internal combustion engines, or fed into the existing gas distribution network", actually reduce greenhouse emissions? The carbon dioxide is just turned into...carbon dioxide. At best it only makes it slightly more efficient to burn fuel.
a.l.
What possible purpose does a process serve whose byproduct produces fuels that, themselves, produce greenhouse gases when burned? Whether the emissions are sent into the air sooner or later, THE END RESULT IS THE SAME. There is absolutely NO environmental advantage to incorporating such a process in existing and/or future power plants. All it serves to do is reward polluters for polluting. Not only does this research deserve to not receive funding, it should be completely suppressed.
sk8dad
Seems to me every joule of energy used to catalyze CO2 is a joule not used to generate electricity. Waste heat you say? Well if there were that much waste heat, wouldn't a more efficient power plant design be a better approach? I suppose all this depend on actual efficiency numbers. Heck, at high enough efficiency numbers it'll start to make sense to just use solar concentrators to catalyze atmospheric CO2 for ICE fuel.
Nik
Another bunch, who have swallowed the Carbon Tax propaganda! Present global CO2 level is the lowest it has been since the Permian extinction 270 million years ago. The present atmosphere is CO2 impoverished, and may well be part of the cause for the current extinction event that many scientists have commented upon. Low CO2 levels prevent rapid plant growth, and regeneration of destroyed forests, that are the 'Lungs of the Earth.' CO2 is NOT a pollutant, it is an essential component for ALL carbon based life on Earth, which is just about everything. If CO2 falls below 150 ppm, then all plant life will start to die, closely followed by all animal life. Because the present atmosphere is impoverished in CO2, commercial greenhouses have to pump CO2 into them to remain efficient, at significant cost. If Human produced CO2 has reversed the downward trend of Atmospheric CO2, then it may well have prevented its own extinction, even if only temporarily.
Saigvre
That's a fine mid-rack test; if you want to throw yourself on the perovskite, highly coordinated electron systems, catalysts, green systems, hazmat spit-take (it makes carbon monoxide! and raging pundits!) and er...the journal it was from I guess...test racks and see all the amazing places your work bleeds, this is a very nice take. They actually -test- their model! I think. There are process pix (hydrogen starving it and not.) It'll look better in final press. If I were in Flatwhitistan, I would look at this and know that without a ton of patents on working CO2 at all temps instead of just this one, I could capture CO2 and waste heat, then concretize flux stone or make flax waterproof or whatever and improve some built environs. Flax velos for everyone.
Xanshin
Nik please cite your source. This page: https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/24/ would seem to suggest that your information is....not correct.
Nik
Xanshin--As any .gov site is liable to be part of the carbon tax scam, anything shown there is highly suspect, not necessarily what they show, but what they do not show. Here's a graph of CO2 levels over the last 600 million years. http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/PageMill_Images/image277.gif When I say present, I am referring to the present inter ice age period.As the next ice age commences, CO2 levels will fall rapidly as the CO2 released by the Oceans will drop, due to cooling. However, quite apart from that, CO2 is a totally insignificant greenhouse gas, first because it is the least effective of the greenhouse gasses, and second because there is so little of it, at 400ppm, which is barely trace. All life on Earth would benefit from significantly increased levels. If this major ice age becomes a repeat of the one 600 million years ago, the Earth will return to a complete snowball, and nearly all life will become extinct. However there are probably several thousand years for humans to prepare for it, should they live that long.