Scientists of the Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh are working on photo-catalytic reduction technology which would recycle carbon dioxide emissions from power plants into liquid and gaseous fuels for the domestic and transport sectors.
Another positive aspect of this conversion process is the use of solar radiation.
A team of scientists led by Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer is working to generate ethanol, methanol and methane from emissions of power plants. The team is working on the next generation photo-catalytic reduction process that will yield higher quantity of fuels compared to the technology available at present.
The fuels products can be used for district heating in the domestic sector and as transport fuels in aircraft. While the domestic sectors are currently excluded from probably all emission reduction targets around the world, the international aviation industry is currently contemplating mechanisms to reduce emissions. Thus, successful production of liquid fuels from this technology may help the airlines reduce their carbon footprint.
A number of companies are working on such technology to recycle GHG emissions from industries. In 2009, the Arizona Public Service received $70.5 million in stimulus funding for a project to convert carbon dioxide emissions from a coal power plant into biofuel using algae.
One such company working specifically in the aviation fuels market is LanzaTech. The company uses a biological process to treat flue gases from steel plants, oil refineries, and other chemical industries. Through the process of fermentation the company plans to produce aircraft grade biofuel which can be used to power aircraft.
LanzaTech’s original technology works with carbon monoxide emissions but through an agreement with PETRONAS the company plans to extend the technology to include treatment of carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas wells to produce acetic acid, a high value chemical with applications in the polymers and plastics markets.
The technology of recycling emissions from energy-intensive industries could give birth to the next-generation of carbon mitigation across the developed world as well as developing countries. Such technologies can help shipping and airline sectors to take immediate steps to reduce carbon emissions. They would also enable developing countries support low-carbon economic growth and help curb their carbon emissions.
Mridul Chadha currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.