Do you have adblock enabled?
 
If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Al Jazeera)   Scottish engineers conjure up gasoline from nothing but air and water   ( aljazeera.com) divider line
    More: Unlikely, petroleums, Glasgow University, Al Jazeera, gasoline, Electric energy consumption  
•       •       •

9467 clicks; posted to Main » on 13 Jan 2013 at 7:43 AM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



144 Comments     (+0 »)
 
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest


Oldest | « | 1 | 2 | 3 | » | Newest | Show all

 
2013-01-13 07:20:47 AM  
[FOLLOWUP] Scottish engineers mysteriously dying in one-car "accidents".
 
2013-01-13 07:50:01 AM  
"The bottom line - making very optimistic assumptions about their efficiency, if this company was to scale up to produce enough gasoline to meet demand in the USA, it would require half the world's energy consumption every day," he said. "That is clearly unacceptable."

Maybe if they could pair it with a renewable source ...
 
2013-01-13 07:51:53 AM  

nmemkha: "The bottom line - making very optimistic assumptions about their efficiency, if this company was to scale up to produce enough gasoline to meet demand in the USA, it would require half the world's energy consumption every day," he said. "That is clearly unacceptable."

Maybe if they could pair it with a renewable source ...


you mean like in TFA?
 
2013-01-13 07:55:09 AM  
Sounds like a very inefficient use of electricity. Assuming the process is 10% efficient and your car is 10% efficient you are getting 1% of that energy back in the form of useful work. Just use electric cars instead.
 
2013-01-13 07:56:15 AM  
jasonbyrne.files.wordpress.com

Scottish engineers: changing the laws of physics since 2265
 
2013-01-13 07:56:15 AM  
This is brutally inefficient. And there's really no magical solution that's ever going to make it an efficient technology since CO2 and water and menthol all have their respective chemical potential energies, which will never change since that's just the law of the universe.

I think the tech that makes the most sense involves methanol and maybe dimethyl ether synthesis from synthesis gas. Coal, natural gas, and biomass can all be used as feedstocks for methanol production. With diligent planning, CO2 and compounds of sulfur can be economically sequestered.

But once the CO2 is in the air? Pulling it back out is incredibly expensive, making something useful from it, even moreso. At least a syngas plant could theoretically manage CO2 cradle-to-grave.
 
2013-01-13 07:57:50 AM  

Kuoxasar: And there's really no magical solution that's ever going to make it an efficient technology since CO2 and water and menthol all have their respective chemical potential energies,


Well I meant methanol but I bet converting it to menthol would be a bit costly too...
 
2013-01-13 07:58:22 AM  
The article doesn't really illuminate anything new that they've done. Fischer-Tropsch ((CO2 -> CO) + H2 => liquid fuels) has been around since at least WW2. CO2 capture from air has been proposed before. Alternatively, one could capture the CO2 output from power plants directly, making the step of acquiring a carbon source much easier.

Another interesting project is Sandia's Sunshine to Petrol project: "Using concentrated solar energy to reverse combustion, a research team from Sandia National Laboratories is building a prototype device intended to chemically "reenergize" carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide using concentrated solar power. The carbon monoxide could then be used to make hydrogen or serve as a building block to synthesize a liquid combustible fuel, such as methanol or even gasoline, diesel and jet fuel."
 
2013-01-13 08:04:55 AM  
"What we want to do is to catch all that spare renewable electricity and use it in other forms.

That's awesome. We could also build nuclear plants in the middle of freaking nowhere (where you normally wouldn't because it's too far away from the end users) to create the energy to do this. Deserts probably wouldn't work because of a lack of water but I'm sure there are other deserted places with lakes and crap.

And why aren't more coastal regions using those freaky wave energy generators? hmm... that gave me another idea. Toss a couple platforms out in the ocean with the wave generator thingies to do this. There's a risk of spills but I'm imagine gas isn't as bad as crude and you could keep them away from coastlines.

Whatever... it's nice to wake up to positive news for a change.

Now bugger off.
 
2013-01-13 08:05:30 AM  

Madman drummers bummers: [jasonbyrne.files.wordpress.com image 720x540]

Scottish engineers: changing the laws of physics since 2265


Who changed any laws of physics (...ever, much less here, where they're just pointlessly and wastefully reversing a common chemical reaction)?
 
2013-01-13 08:10:21 AM  
Och, then they'll subsequently get fookin' droonk oof tha' shat.
 
2013-01-13 08:16:54 AM  

ThrobblefootSpectre: Sounds like a very inefficient use of electricity. Assuming the process is 10% efficient and your car is 10% efficient you are getting 1% of that energy back in the form of useful work. Just use electric cars instead.


Ding!

If they could achieve any reasonable level of efficiency, octane would be a great way to store energy. But without that, there are lots of other forms, from hydrogen to methanol to other gases.

In fact, this process is probably so inefficient that its hard to understand why anyone would consider it practical.
 
2013-01-13 08:23:16 AM  
Air Fuel Synthesis is now seeking just over $8m to fund a commercial plant they hope would be capable of producing one ton of petrol a day by 2015.

So about 30 gallons per day? Or enough to sustain maybe 4 commuters? This doesn't seem cost effective.

/I'm surprised America isn't racing to throw billions at it.
 
2013-01-13 08:24:11 AM  

CowardlyLion: Madman drummers bummers: [jasonbyrne.files.wordpress.com image 720x540]

Scottish engineers: changing the laws of physics since 2265

Who changed any laws of physics (...ever, much less here, where they're just pointlessly and wastefully reversing a common chemical reaction)?


Did you wake up in a tub of ice in Jamaica with your funny bone missing this morning?
 
2013-01-13 08:24:49 AM  
I've also read that they've discovered two new uses for sheep... meat and wool.
 
2013-01-13 08:25:08 AM  
The reasoning is that it is carbon neutral. If you use wind/solar power to yank C02 out of the air there are no emissions there... then when the fuel is burned the C02 goes back into air where it came from instead of adding more like with fossil fuels.

But of course... anything that even MENTIONS moving away from oil is hippy dippy crap and doesn't make sense because Jebus > Science!!!
 
2013-01-13 08:25:51 AM  
This is idiotic.
 
2013-01-13 08:30:11 AM  

CreampuffCasperMilktoast: /I'm surprised America isn't racing to throw billions at it.


You do realize that at the advent of the industrial revolution a ridiculous amount of money went into developing coal/oil production, right? Still does. In fact more gov money probably goes toward the oil companies than renewables and those motherfrackers are already set up and rolling in dough.

Ooooh won't somebody think of the oil companies?!
 
2013-01-13 08:33:20 AM  

Kuoxasar: CO2 and water and menthol all have their respective chemical potential energies


No more'n what God gave 'em, ya puritan puke

i2.ytimg.com
 
2013-01-13 08:38:20 AM  
"Much more energy is fed into the plant, in the form of electricity, than is extracted from it. "

If it weren't for that pesky law of thermodynamics we would have this global warming thing licked in a jiffy.
 
2013-01-13 08:40:10 AM  

FTA:


It cost them around $800,000 to build the plant. Since the mini-refinery was switched on in August, they have made 15 litres of fuel that could be used to power any normal car.


They've spent nearly 1 million dollars to produce 15 liters of fuel in 4 months. So, at current prices, it will only take about 200 thousand years to break even on that investment, excluding interest.
 
2013-01-13 08:43:17 AM  

ko_kyi: "Much more energy is fed into the plant, in the form of electricity, than is extracted from it. "

If it weren't for that pesky law of thermodynamics we would have this global warming thing licked in a jiffy.


It'll be useful in the future when most things we use as a society can be powered by renewables and we have the infrastructure set up for solar, wind, etc...

Then the few things that still require petrol can be run off this stuff. No drilling. No extra C02 being dumped into the air. No dealing with whackjob fundamentalists in the arseholes of the world.

It's will be a rich tapestry.
 
2013-01-13 08:44:39 AM  

maggoo: FTA:

It cost them around $800,000 to build the plant. Since the mini-refinery was switched on in August, they have made 15 litres of fuel that could be used to power any normal car.

They've spent nearly 1 million dollars to produce 15 liters of fuel in 4 months. So, at current prices, it will only take about 200 thousand years to break even on that investment, excluding interest.


Development costs far more than full production in any industry.
 
2013-01-13 08:47:49 AM  

here to help: The reasoning is that it is carbon neutral. If you use wind/solar power to yank C02 out of the air there are no emissions there... then when the fuel is burned the C02 goes back into air where it came from instead of adding more like with fossil fuels.

But of course... anything that even MENTIONS moving away from oil is hippy dippy crap and doesn't make sense because Jebus > Science!!!


Too bad CO2 concentration is already high enough that it can't trap IR rays any more effectively. Adding more CO2 will hardly change how many IR rays are reflected back.

logarithms: how do they work?
 
2013-01-13 08:53:07 AM  

liam76: This is idiotic.


no, you are.

This is an awesome idea that WILL aid sub-Saharan African (and similar) nations' economies in the future. Using renewable sources to extract and construct octane to sell to a market that just.wont.give.up its addiction to the stuff (pry-from-my-cold-dead-hands-style)

The idiocy doesn't lie in the countries that have vast tracts of sun-scorched lands that could easily power this machine. It lies in the DERP of nations whose political systems are *ahem* fuelled by the petro-chemical industries, and the spin-altered perspectives of the petrol addicts who refuse to be weaned of the teats of big oil.

Who farking cares where the octane comes from, when all they want is to drive their 2ton 6000cc v8 supercharged roadmonsters to the store every day? Answer: Only an idiot.

Awesomely carbon neutral solution is awesome.
 
2013-01-13 08:56:56 AM  
They should invent a device that turns water into wine, scotch hydrogen.
 
2013-01-13 08:58:08 AM  

Sir Cumference the Flatulent: [FOLLOWUP] Scottish engineers mysteriously dying in one-car "accidents".


Correct, if it weren't for petroleum the Middle East would weave rugs for income. The headline would probably read "Newly discovered gasoline kills engineers in freak explosion."
 
2013-01-13 08:58:29 AM  

stirfrybry: Too bad CO2 concentration is already high enough that it can't trap IR rays any more effectively. Adding more CO2 will hardly change how many IR rays are reflected back.

logarithms: how do they work?


So do nothing, right?

How much exactly do you shills get paid to come on here and threadsh*t? I could use some extra cash.
 
2013-01-13 09:01:58 AM  
I think we're missing the point - the goal isn't to find a cheap, renewable energy source - it's to get MONEY (research grants, investors, etc.) to 'fund' the 'research'. Keep the game going long enough, and you've made an entire career out of (legally) bilking investors.

See: Moeller, flying car, etc.
 
2013-01-13 09:02:46 AM  

Kuoxasar: Kuoxasar: And there's really no magical solution that's ever going to make it an efficient technology since CO2 and water and menthol all have their respective chemical potential energies,

Well I meant methanol but I bet converting it to menthol would be a bit costly too...


But the exhaust would be oh so Kool.
 
2013-01-13 09:03:51 AM  

here to help: Development costs far more than full production in any industry.


That is only relevant if you are expecting a productivity increase in the range of 20000x without requiring any investment. If not, you are better served by simply investing that money in storing energy somewhere else.
 
2013-01-13 09:04:22 AM  

kokomo61: I think we're missing the point - the goal isn't to find a cheap, renewable energy source - it's to get MONEY (research grants, investors, etc.) to 'fund' the 'research'. Keep the game going long enough, and you've made an entire career out of (legally) bilking investors.

See: Moeller, flying car, etc.


That's right. All that money could be going to buy more hookers and blow for oil tycoons and waging wars for profit.
 
2013-01-13 09:06:15 AM  
The barrier to expansion is that the process uses lots of power. Much more energy is fed into the plant, in the form of electricity, than is extracted from it.

And if they think that's ever going to change, no matter how much money they sink into "research", they should go into another line of work.
 
2013-01-13 09:06:48 AM  

maggoo: That is only relevant if you are expecting a productivity increase in the range of 20000x without requiring any investment. If not, you are better served by simply investing that money in storing energy somewhere else.


The energy industry needs to diversify. This could be another piece of the puzzle. It might work... it might not. The only certainty is that we ARE going to run out of oil someday at our current rate of consumption.
 
2013-01-13 09:09:50 AM  

here to help: That's right. All that money could be going to buy more hookers and blow for oil tycoons and waging wars for profit.


That's a false dilemma. You can just as easily invest in any other form of energy storage. Fuel cells, molten salt batteries, biological fuel synthesis, flywheels, etc etc etc. There are plenty of investment opportunities out there, and not everyone is based on dubious returns on a technology whose only upside is that it is compatible with an archaic technology which is on the way out.
 
2013-01-13 09:13:40 AM  
Good gawd, this makes algae-derrived biodiesel look positively efficient - the algae route has numerous side benefits like leftover biomass for animal feed that can suplement/compete with corn feed. And it's completely renewable. And pair it with enough solar panels/ waste oil generators burning the leftover glycerin, it could actually be somewhat efficient. And it cleans waste water. And you can make jet fuel as well as truck diesel out of the resulting vegetable oil.

Basically an energy company should buy the Mohave desert and convert it into a massive fuel factory is what I'm saying. No open ponds, those waste water like crazy, only enclosed loop systems.
 
2013-01-13 09:18:34 AM  

here to help: The energy industry needs to diversify. This could be another piece of the puzzle. It might work... it might not. The only certainty is that we ARE going to run out of oil someday at our current rate of consumption.


There are plenty of energy storage technologies floating around, whose only problems are a) the world hasn't adopted any of them, at least as widely as fuel for internal combustion engines and b) they aren't as cheap as yesterday's fuel. For example, current flywheel energy storage systems have an energy density equal to Lithium-ion batteries, but only require about 15 minute to recharge and have around 80% efficiency, all this without being forced to depend on a single source of energy which is based on synthesizing a chemical. And there are other options as well.
 
2013-01-13 09:19:55 AM  

maggoo: That's a false dilemma. You can just as easily invest in any other form of energy storage. Fuel cells, molten salt batteries, biological fuel synthesis, flywheels, etc etc etc. There are plenty of investment opportunities out there, and not everyone is based on dubious returns on a technology whose only upside is that it is compatible with an archaic technology which is on the way out.


This was the prototype. It will likely become more efficient with some effort. Also they are talking about using EXCESS energy from other renewables that would otherwise be wasted. Fuel cells are expensive, wear out and you are still left with electric power which isn't as flexible, easy to store handle or potent for use in engines.

It's a good idea because of the simple fact it creates PETROL. Most of the other renewables don't do that and there will always be a use for it.
 
2013-01-13 09:21:24 AM  

here to help: That's right. All that money could be going to buy more hookers and blow for oil tycoons and waging wars for profit.

exactly

. this is going to steal jerbs from all those honest coca farmers, hardworking personal-service agents and innocent defence-mechanism engineers. What about the little guy? Won't someone think of their children?
 
2013-01-13 09:23:17 AM  

maggoo: And there are other options as well.


And now there is one more. I'm not sure why you're slagging on it because you seem okay with other renewable energy sources. It works. They proved it works. They can use excess energy that's being wasted anyway. It can be done without drilling or being near anything special aside from a source of water. These are good things.
 
2013-01-13 09:24:46 AM  
They should use it to synthesize booze, instead
 
2013-01-13 09:26:15 AM  

here to help: This was the prototype. It will likely become more efficient with some effort. Also they are talking about using EXCESS energy from other renewables that would otherwise be wasted. Fuel cells are expensive, wear out and you are still left with electric power which isn't as flexible, easy to store handle or potent for use in engines.

It's a good idea because of the simple fact it creates PETROL. Most of the other renewables don't do that and there will always be a use for it.


You've missed the point. Any other energy storage technology is quite able to put to work with any "excess energy from other renewables that would otherwise be wasted". For example, for some decades now, flywheels, chemical batteries and even pumped-storage hydroelectric plants have been specifically built to store excess energy harnessed by renewable energy sources. Those technologies, to be viable, don't need efficiency increases in the 20k% range, at the cost of god knows how many millions of dollars.

And, contrary to what you've said, electric power is the most flexible form of power available today. It might not be the most widespread, and the world might not have an entire infrastructure to support it, but it is the most flexible and efficient way to store and transfer power.
 
2013-01-13 09:27:16 AM  
Basically an energy company should buy the Mohave desert and convert it into a massive fuel factory is what I'm saying. No open ponds, those waste water like crazy, only enclosed loop systems.

Solar wind generators.
 
2013-01-13 09:30:58 AM  

maggoo: You've missed the point. Any other energy storage technology is quite able to put to work with any "excess energy from other renewables that would otherwise be wasted". For example, for some decades now, flywheels, chemical batteries and even pumped-storage hydroelectric plants have been specifically built to store excess energy harnessed by renewable energy sources. Those technologies, to be viable, don't need efficiency increases in the 20k% range, at the cost of god knows how many millions of dollars.

And, contrary to what you've said, electric power is the most flexible form of power available today. It might not be the most widespread, and the world might not have an entire infrastructure to support it, but it is the most flexible and efficient way to store and transfer power.


And you've missed my point. That is all well and good but this particular method could be useful as well. Deep Contact has made some good points as to specific uses for it.

Like I said... try it all and use what works where it works.
 
2013-01-13 09:32:42 AM  

stirfrybry: Too bad CO2 concentration is already high enough that it can't trap IR rays any more effectively. Adding more CO2 will hardly change how many IR rays are reflected back.

logarithms: how do they work?


Greenhouse effect: How does it work?
 
2013-01-13 09:33:26 AM  

here to help: And now there is one more. I'm not sure why you're slagging on it because you seem okay with other renewable energy sources. It works. They proved it works. They can use excess energy that's being wasted anyway. It can be done without drilling or being near anything special aside from a source of water. These are good things.


The bit about they having proved it works is actually debatable. But let's assume they did, and it's not yet another free energy gimmick to fleece investors.

The main problem with this technology is the return on investment which it is able to generate. If you sink a million dollars and the best thing that you can come up with is 15 liters of gas, then you have a major problem. You harness the same amount of energy putting up a $1k wind turbine somewhere, and simply wait a bit, or burn a pile of wood/organic matter, or wait for a tide to wash out, or watch some waves crash. It's possible to generate energy from plenty of sources, but the main problem is generating it efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. This one, unless its production efficiency improves a million times over, is completely useless beyond a convoluted parlor trick.
 
2013-01-13 09:41:47 AM  
Harrison believes Scotland's ambitious targets mean there will be plenty of spare power. "There is a lot of renewable energy around at the moment that is wasted," he said. "What we want to do is to catch all that spare renewable electricity and use it in other forms. Petrol is something that is very useful and easy to store."

That much is very true but you're proposing a terribly inefficient mechanism to store that spare electricity.

The article doesn't mention how much power their $800,000 mini-plant has consumed since it was turned-on in August but only generates 1 gallon of petrol per month. One. So let's assume the process is scaled linearly to a $1B plant and assume that there's enough spare renewable energy to power such a beast. It'll only create 41 gallons per day.

For comparison, my little 5500W gas-powered generator will supposedly run for 10 hours at half load. It has a 7 gallon gas tank. So it converts gasoline to electricity at a rate of 3.9KW-h per gallon of gasoline. Using my generator as a baseline, this billion-dollar plant will only produce 161KW-h worth of stored power per day. That'll power about 3 homes in the southern US in the summer. There has to be a more efficient way to store spare wind energy...
 
2013-01-13 09:43:33 AM  
Jarhead_h: Good gawd, this makes algae-derrived biodiesel look positively efficient - the algae route has numerous side benefits like leftover biomass for animal feed that can suplement/compete with corn feed. And it's completely renewable. And pair it with enough solar panels/ waste oil generators burning the leftover glycerin, it could actually be somewhat efficient. And it cleans waste water. And you can make jet fuel as well as truck diesel out of the resulting vegetable oil.

Hey, there's an idea. If it's good enough for animals, it's got to be good enough for people too- we could turn the leftovers into a food source for the world's starving population, maybe something like a cracker that would be easy to package. People aren't going to go for something with algae in the name though, too icky. And what about the color? Can't hide the fact it's green.

I've got it! We'll say that it's soy based instead! Now all we need is a catchy name, any ideas?
 
2013-01-13 09:44:07 AM  
This is wasting valuable Scottish time from making scotch.
 
2013-01-13 09:44:50 AM  

maggoo: The bit about they having proved it works is actually debatable. But let's assume they did, and it's not yet another free energy gimmick to fleece investors.

The main problem with this technology is the return on investment which it is able to generate. If you sink a million dollars and the best thing that you can come up with is 15 liters of gas, then you have a major problem. You harness the same amount of energy putting up a $1k wind turbine somewhere, and simply wait a bit, or burn a pile of wood/organic matter, or wait for a tide to wash out, or watch some waves crash. It's possible to generate energy from plenty of sources, but the main problem is generating it efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. This one, unless its production efficiency improves a million times over, is completely useless beyond a convoluted parlor trick.


All those other energy sources required investment and were extremely inefficient at the beginning. Essentially you are saying do nothing... and that is not a philosophy I can get behind.

Good day, sir and/or madam.

I SAID GOOD DAY!

*slams door*
 
Displayed 50 of 144 comments


Oldest | « | 1 | 2 | 3 | » | Newest | Show all


View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

This thread is archived, and closed to new comments.

Continue Farking

On Twitter





Top Commented
Javascript is required to view headlines in widget.
  1. Links are submitted by members of the Fark community.

  2. When community members submit a link, they also write a custom headline for the story.

  3. Other Farkers comment on the links. This is the number of comments. Click here to read them.

  4. Click here to submit a link.

Report