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Topic Title: Petrol from Water and Air using Electricity
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Created On: 19 October 2012 09:08 AM
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 19 October 2012 09:08 AM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1041
Joined: 05 September 2004

The Independent is running a story about Air Fuels Synthesis Ltd and their process for obtaining petrol from water and air using electricity as energy source.

http://www.independent.co.uk/n...o-petrol-8217382.html

Tim Fox, head of energy and the environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has seen the process working. Cost of the fuel per litre in energy terms is not stated.

Maybe cheaper to get more concentrated CO2 from gas power stations to help slash rate of carbon emmissions per kwh of energy used or better still get cars to collect their own CO2 output in reusable abosorbers which then be exchanged at petrol stations when you fill up.

I would have thought collecting CO2 from air is always going to remain slow (in industrial process terms) and thus expensive.

A description of their process is on their website.

http://www.airfuelsynthesis.co...technical-review.html

These sort of potential developments make it all the more important that wind farm projects like Greenwire should have export points near industrial centres so surplus green electricity that cannot be used on the grid, can be used off-grid.

James Arathoon



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James Arathoon
 19 October 2012 01:25 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1041
Joined: 05 September 2004

Short Video Clip on the BBC website

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20003704

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James Arathoon
 21 October 2012 11:27 AM
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ectophile

Posts: 545
Joined: 17 September 2001

What seems to be missing from what I read is any indication of how much electricity is required to produce the hydrocarbon fuel.

I can't help wondering if the whole process is so inefficient that it might never be commercially viable.

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S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
 21 October 2012 01:06 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1041
Joined: 05 September 2004

I agree:

So what are the economics of this:

Lets assume a petrol forecourt cost of £1.40 per litre.

of that 23p is VAT at 20% and 61p is fuel duty

Therefore price at forecourt before tax is approximately 56p per litre.

According to wikipedia petrol contains approx 10 KWh/litre of energy

So before tax we are currently paying 5.6p per KWh (which seems suprisingly low)

Energy from windfarms at the moment is around 10p to 20p per KWh off-grid

Air Fuels Synthesis say their fuel manufacturing system is equivalent to energy storage; so for arguments sake lets say the best conversion efficiency they can obtain is 50% (this is just a wild guess, but they can't really call their process an energy storage technology if they are expecting much smaller conversion efficiencies than this)

Therefore the cost per KWh of manufactured petrol will be 20p-40p per KWh just on energy costs alone, which works out at around £2.00 to £4.00 per litre before tax.

Add on the capital, wage and transport costs, and this is seriously uneconomic at the moment.

However if the fuel manufacturer can utilise grid curtailed electricity from a windfarm that would otherwise go to waste (at discount rates) then they may have a viable business for the much smaller performance fuels market as they suggest.

I wonder if it will be possible to target some sectors of the aviation fuel market as well.

James Arathoon



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James Arathoon
 24 October 2012 08:12 PM
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ADJONES

Posts: 31
Joined: 15 November 2002

It's technically interesting but as a concept it appears predicated on a fundamental flaw - we don't have a surplus of zero-carbon electricity and certainly won't for the next 20 years or more. Granted in coming years as more wind power gets added to the system there may be short periods, say windy summer nights, where there's a surplus but I doubt the economics of running a synthetic fuels plant would stack-up based on such narrow periods of low or negative electricity pricing. Also, I think economically and environmentally it would be more beneficial to address that surplus through means which allowed the electricity to be used in raw form, say through increasing transmission system capacity, demand management and shifting from petrol fueled based vehicles to electric vehicles. When you consider any petroleum produced through the process is going to be used in a relatively thermally inefficient engine or gas turbine, the overall efficiency from generator terminal all the way through to shaft power must be pretty poor.
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