By now, the grim state of our dwindling fossil fuel reserves is at the forefront of the everybody’s minds, and while alternative, renewable sources of energy hold promise, they aren’t making quite as much progress as we might have hoped. To help ease the transition to renewable energy, a German company based in Dresden called Sunfire GmbH thinks they might have found a way to turn water and carbon dioxide into synthetic fuel, something similar to recognizable fuels like diesel or petrol. The three step process first uses solid oxide electrolysis cells to convert electrical energy to chemical energy, the resultant of which is hydrogen. This hydrogen is then used in the second step in a reverse water-gas shift reaction which changes carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, and feeds into the final step which uses Fischer-Tropsche Synthesis to create the fuel.
These so-called “e-fuels” can be used on their own, or as additives to normal fuels, similar to adding ethanol to petrol. This all sounds great, particularly as we are able to use water, one of our most abundant resources, to create fuel, making it relatively sustainable, but unfortunately we won’t see any commercial progression of this technology until at least 2016 when it’s expected the technology will be more mature and regulatory factors have been satisfied.
What do you think about having the ability to turn water and carbon dioxide into synthetic fuel? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.