Dr. Jeffrey Martin and William L. Kubic, Jr. have proposed a concept to synthesize gasoline from carbon dioxide emissions, and have dubbed their idea “Green Freedom.” “The idea is simple,” (a sure bet that it’s anything but) says Kenneth Chang in the New York Times:
Air would be blown over a liquid solution of potassium carbonate, which would absorb the carbon dioxide [which] would then be extracted and subjected to chemical reactions that would turn it into fuel: methanol, gasoline or jet fuel.
The resulting gasoline would not emit carbon dioxide. Developed at Los Alamos, the idea is based on sound physics, though so far it has not been proven at the factory level. The problem with the concept is that it uses an enormous amount of energy — so much so that it can’t be produced economically except by a nuclear power plant. Oh, and thousands of them would need to be built in order to replace petroleum at current levels of use. The scientists are estimating that the process could produce gasoline at a cost of $3.40 a gallon to the consumer.
If this sounds like a contorted process, it may be because the carbon emissions problem remains a hard nut to crack. Electric cars just move the energy use to the power plant, unless those cars are powered by solar-charged batteries. Hydrogen fuel cells take large amounts of energy to create the hydrogen. And biofuels take up valuable farmland or replace rainforests needed to offset carbon emissions. So you can’t blame a scientist for trying. Martin and Kubic will present their idea today at the Alternative Energy Now conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
For another take on the “Green Freedom” project, see Steve Verhey’s post on Gas 2.0.