So, How Long Until Production?

I guess there is hope for Texas after all. A group of chemists and engineers from the University of Texas, have devised a way to use concentrated light, heat, and high pressure to, in a one step process, convert carbon dioxide and water directly into liquid hydrocarbon fuel.

The obvious immediate impact would be using carbon we already do not need in the atmosphere, to create fuel. However it would seem to me that using this new fuel would put the carbon dioxide right back into the atmosphere. But, hopefully there would be a small net gain. Even if it is a break even proposition it should long term, reduce carbon content in the atmosphere. It has to, right? If you are taking away the carbon already there, then putting it right back, has to be better than not taking any away at all. The process also supposedly has oxygen as a by product!

They don’t get into specifics with the numbers, it would be nice to have a figure to see if this process is actually beneficial, once you consider the entire production process from start to finish. It said in the article they use titanium dioxide (TD) as a main ingredient. I know they manufacture that not far from where I live. It has to be mined and processed before it becomes well, TD. So there is a lot of dozers, trucks, forklifts, and furnaces involved. I also know they use chlorine gas in large amounts as well. (I worked for an on site contractor at Dupont, where they make TD for a few months a while back. I was waiting out the winter so I could get back in the water as a diver.) Anyway it is a huge operation manufacturing TD. And the carbon footprint from manufacture of TD alone will be very large.

As I was saying the carbon footprint for the entire production of this new liquid hydrocarbon fuel has to be considered before it is really a viable alternative. According to the article another plus is there would be no need for infastructure changes, because we already live in a liquid hydrocarbon society. So that would be huge.

If, and this is a big if, this new fuel passes the sniff test for viability, it has the potential to make quite an imact on our carbon problem. At any rate it could slow our carbon output some as we try to forestall our own demise from our excesses. This conjecture assumes the oil companies don’t buy up the rights to the new tech so they can conveniently “lose” it.