23 Nov 2009:
Researchers Develop Machine
To Recycle Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel
U.S. researchers have demonstrated a technology that uses the sun’s heat to convert carbon dioxide and water into the building blocks of traditional fuels
, a reverse combustion process that may emerge as a practical alternative to sequestration of CO2 emissions from power plants. The prototype “Sunshine to Petrol” system, developed by Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, uses concentrated solar energy to trigger a thermo-chemical reaction in an iron-rich composite located inside a two-sided cylindrical chamber. The iron oxide is designed to lose an oxygen molecule when exposed to 1,500 degree C heat, and then retrieve an oxygen molecule when it is cooled down, essentially converting an incoming supply of CO2 into an outgoing stream of carbon monoxide. Additionally, when researchers
Sandia National Laboratories
pump water into the chamber rather than CO2, the machine produces hydrogen. Combining those retrieved gases — hydrogen and carbon monoxide — they are able to create syngas, which can be used as a fuel. While researchers say the technology likely will not be ready for market for 15 to 20 years, it could one day become a practical way to recycle CO2. “It’s a productive utilization of CO2 that you might capture from a coal plant, a brewery, and similar concentrated sources,” said James Miller, a Sandia chemical engineer.
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A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.