Energy

Reactor that produces liquid fuel from CO2 in the air to be tested in portable pilot plant

Reactor that produces liquid f...
The chemical reactor at the heart of the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels
The chemical reactor at the heart of the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels
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Hydrogen storage for the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels
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Hydrogen storage for the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels
The Ineratec team and their system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels
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The Ineratec team and their system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels
The chemical reactor at the heart of the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels
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The chemical reactor at the heart of the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels

The fuels we burn add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. A new compact power plant is starting up in Finland that could help combat the problem by converting atmospheric carbon dioxide itself into usable fuels. The transportable chemical reactor uses solar power to convert CO2 from the air and regenerative hydrogen from electrolysis into liquid fuels.

We've seen similar efforts to convert ambient CO2 into methanol, ethanol, and even carbon nanofibers, but few are aiming to bring a product to market like Ineratec aims to do soon.

Dubbed the Soletair Project, the inner workings of the reactor are structured on a microscopic level to make it compact enough to fit into a shipping container. The system, which was created at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), will be commercialized by KIT spinoff company Ineratec and its developers claim it can produce gasoline, diesel and kerosene on demand.

The reactor can also be configured to convert modest amounts of exhaust containing methane, produced by both fossil and renewable fuels or waste gas resulting from oil or biogas production, into the same varieties of liquid synthetic fuels.

Hydrogen storage for the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels
Hydrogen storage for the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels

"We supply an entirely new, modular technology that is a real alternative to the costly large chemical facilities used for the conventional gas-to-liquid process," Dr. Ing. Tim Böltken of Ineratec explains. He says the system could eventually be used to harvest fuel from sewage treatment plants or let organic farmers also produce energy on the side.

A pilot plant is set to go into operation at the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland, which developed the system's direct air capture unit, by the end of the year. In 2017, testing will continue at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), which is responsible for developing the electrolysis system used to generate the hydrogen needed for the reaction. The system could be ready to go to market by mid-2018.

Sources: KIT (1), (2), VTT

18 comments
watersworm
Waow ! Convert 0,04% (at best) of CO2 present in the atmosphere, while "cracking" water to obtain H2, and then proceed fuels as complicated as kerosene's C10H22 to C14H30, besides in a "clean" and "economic" way ??? If soon operational, give them quickly Nobel prize of whathever Peace (Al Gore did get it with his propaganda movie about Climate) or Chemistry !
Tommo
Totally amazing, could this be the game changer we've been looking for? I think so.
EcoLogical
There are a few other companies doing the same thing (LANL's Green Freedom, Exxon's MTG process) but this is the first solar 'appliance' I've seen that individuals or small businesses (farmers) can potentially use to produce their own renewable, carbon-neutral fuels. Economics are a key factor of course.
Jeff J Carlson
"The fuels we burn add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change." Since you refuse to define "climate change" your theory (yes its a theory and currently unproven) is nothing but propaganda ... but its cool technology climate change scam or not ... :)
S Michael
If you really want to get this technology off the ground and moving forward at a rapid pace; scale it down to the home owner level and sell it at a reasonable price. Has to be reasonable or it will die.
Jan Garber
I wonder which oil company will offer romantic buy it up first?
habakak
Jeffie, climate change is actually being measured and observed. It's not just a theory. Quantum mechanics and relativity are theories of which we've only proved little bits. Yet we live our lives according to it. Do you have a problem with those two as well? Religion is also theory. Well, actually more a fantasies than anything. And it makes even less sense than climate change. And it is not even real, it's just stories that people believe. It can't do anything for you or not for you because it's not real. You can't feel it, it can't affect you. Unless you decide to 'feel' it. Regardless, renewable energy is quickly becoming more affordable and cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Renewable energy is actually a GOOD thing for America and the world. It means we do not have to buy oil from terrorist countries, or countries with political systems we do not espouse. The only thing oil is good for is for the entrenched interest that tries to protect it. If we produce all our transportation energy locally (and with renewables we can) we do not have to import any more oil. How is that a bad thing for the US. You don't even have to think about climate change to see the value in this.
Grainpaw
It is not the purpose of an article about a new piece of technology to also define and explain anthropocentric climate change to those troglodytes who have shown that they are incapable of or unwilling to understand it. What this means is that now we can mine Earth's atmosphere instead of Earth's crust. The carbon goes back into the atmosphere when burned, but now it can come back out, instead of adding to the greenhouse gases. There is nothing to stop fossil fuel companies from profiting from this tech also, reducing the need for drilling, and extending the viability of existing equipment using liquid fuel.
Stephen Colbourne
This sounds like a good idea, but it is important that it produces more fuel over its life than it took to manufacture. Otherwise it is simply moving polution from one country to another
JuMo
habakak - well said my friend, well said. Let's hope as Jan said, it doesn't get bought out by oil companies who then bury the technology. Agree this is perfect for a home-sized solution, so lets hope the utility companies don't block it either - don't underestimate the power of money and politics to maintain the status quo