12 Jul 22

Canadian company working on a synthetic fuel that cleans the air

 Canadian company working on a synthetic fuel that cleans the air

The prospect of synthetic fuel is a little closer today, as two big projects have been launched to produce carbon-removed fuels through a process that removes CO2 from the air. 

Triggering a chemical process between hydrogen and CO2 captured from the air, the process of Direct Air Capture (DAC) creates the synthetic fuel methanol. 

Carbon Engineering, which has been investing in DAC since 2015, is now building a new plant capable of eliminating one million tonnes of CO2 per year. Additionally, the University of Surrey, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, has launched a project to produce carbon-derived methanol from DAC. 

The application of methanol as fuel could be revolutionary for climate goals. Nobel Prize winner George Olah put forward the concept of a "methanol economy" in 2006 to fight climate change. In 2008, Lotus developed the Exige 270E Tri-Fuel prototype, which can use petrol, ethanol or methanol as fuel. 

Porsche, aiming to be a pioneer in synthetic carbon-neutral fuels (eFuels), announced a collaboration with Siemens Energy and other international partners in 2020 to produce environmentally friendly alternative fuels. Porsche revealed its plans to produce 130,000 litres of eFuels by 2022, reaching 55 million litres of capacity by 2024 and 550 million litres by 2026. 

Engineers have also found additional uses of CO2 removed from the air. Trapping the carbon enables it to be used as building materials, providing solid products for various purposes. 

The advancements in synthetic fuel production are encouraging for the global zero-emission goals, as methanol can also be applied as shipping fuel and enable the production of aviation fuel. 

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen