CO2 to liquid fuel: something?

Is this something?

Fe-Carbide-Oxide-Carbon phases in Catalyst for Hydrogenation of CO2 to Liquid Fuels

Announcement, breathless of course, in Times of Israel.

I went to the center and grabbed the first thing I could find, not any of the brand new stuff.

There’s more energy stored in the chemical bonds in a hydrocarbon fuel than in the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (and water). If you somehow synthesize fuel from carbon dioxide, you have to put in that energy somehow. There’s no way to get it for “free”. The best conceivable catalyst can not magically input energy in the reaction. All it does is reduce the activation energy.

Still, a good catalyst can make the reaction more efficient, work at lower temperatures, etc. But no matter how perfect your process is, you must input more energy into the reaction than you can ever get out.

Thermodynamics is a bitch, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, etc.

It’s been done before. Typically the energy comes from the sun. It’s still slow and inefficient.

But carbon-neutral.

It’s still a fair question if it’s the best way to use renewable energy. Certainly, it has advantages in that it’s compatible with existing energy consumption paths. That makes it a good way to treat renewable carbon-neutral energy sources as feedstock for existing hydrocarbon-based energy cycles.

I suspect the real test is in the numbers (efficiencies, balance cost of renewable energy sources required to support meaningful change in the overall energy picture, etc.)

A few of the arguments against the all-renewables hydrogen economy dream would also apply.

This seems like good news for the airlines, since transitions to other fuel sources is a challenge for them. The energy/weight ratio is extremely important for airplanes.

But for cars? Electric cars are simply more efficient at turning power into motion, and that’s doubly true if you had to use lots of electricity to convert CO2 into fuel. Electric cars are just a matter of time and they’ll be practical long before you could put this new process into large-scale production of auto fuels. (They’re estimating 5-10 years to put into production. Which means more like 20 years when scientists have to deal with the world of business.)

Otherwise known as photosynthesis.

Liquid fuels are just so energy-dense. We aren’t going to beat that with batteries any time soon, especially if you consider refueling rates.
That said, I’m not so optimistic about this technology on the near term. Still worth investigating IMO.
I am, of course straying out of GQ territory already. So I won’t even start to rant about hydrogen.


A truly green process