22 Dec '17
Scientists at the Novosibirsk-based Boreskov Institute of Catalysis have developed a method of converting atmospheric carbon dioxide and water into a new synthetic gaseous fuel.
The novel fuel production technique begins from electrolysis the team used to obtain hydrogen and oxygen from water. Oxygen is then released to the atmosphere, while hydrogen reacts with carbon dioxide at an elevated temperature in a catalyst-aided reaction that eventually produces methane.
To collect carbon dioxide from the air the researchers used a porous aluminum oxide based carrier saturated with potassium carbonate.
The material obtained is then sent to a reactor that contains a nickel or ruthenium catalyst. In their experiments the scientists heated the porous carrier to have it discharge carbon dioxide; the latter later mixed up with the hydrogen they had produced in electrolysis.
“What makes the effort stand out next to many others is that the technology enables the obtaining of carbon dioxide directly from the air instead of absorbing it from fumes generated by thermal electric stations that use hydrocarbon fuels,” said Zhanna Veselovskaya, a research fellow at the Institute of Catalysis.
The new fuel could be used to heat buildings and/or drive motor vehicles. The technology makes it possible to produce methane anywhere, and all that’s required is an electricity generator that taps a source of alternative energy—an advantage highly beneficial in hard-to-reach regions where conventional fuel delivery is difficult and costly.