Scientists work to make car fuel from thin air

Posted by Emma Woollacott

UK researchers reckon they are on track to take carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into car fuel.

The project aims to develop porous materials that can absorb CO2 and convert it into chemicals that can be used to make car fuel or plastics in a process powered by renewable solar energy.

The researchers hope that in the future the porous materials could be used to line factory chimneys to take carbon dioxide pollutants from the air, reducing the effects of climate change.

"Current processes rely on using separate technology to capture and utilise the CO2, which makes the process very inefficient. By combining the processes the efficiency can be improved and the energy required to drive the CO2 reduction is minimised," said Dr Frank Marken of the University of Bath.

The plan is based on a mixture of techniques including the use of microorganisms that naturally capture CO2.

 "Currently, there are no large-scale technologies available for capturing and processing CO2 from air. The facts are that CO2 is rather diluted in the atmosphere and its chemical reactivity is very low," said Dr David Fermin from the University of Bristol.

"By combining clever material design with heterogeneous catalysis, electrocatalysis and biocatalysis, we aim at developing an effective carbon neutral technology."