Media

New method to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuel using electricity

11:05 AM, 3rd April 2012
New method to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuel using electricity
Producing fuel from carbon dioxide and sunlight.

CALIFORNIA, US: Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have for the first time demonstrated a method for converting carbon dioxide into liquid fuel isobutanol using electricity. Today, electrical energy generated by various methods is still difficult to store efficiently. Chemical batteries, hydraulic pumping and water splitting suffer from low energy-density storage or incompatibility with current transportation infrastructure.

“The current way to store electricity is with lithium ion batteries, in which the density is low, but when you store it in liquid fuel, the density could actually be very high. In addition, we have the potential to use electricity as transportation fuel without needing to change current infrastructure,” said James Liao, department of Chemical Engineering, UCLA. Liao and his team genetically engineered a lithoautotrophic microorganism known as Ralstonia eutropha H16 to produce isobutanol and 3-methyl-1-butanol in an electro-bioreactor using carbon dioxide as the sole carbon source and electricity as the sole energy input.

Photosynthesis is the process of converting light energy to chemical energy and storing it in the bonds of sugar. There are two parts to photosynthesis, a light reaction and a dark reaction. The light reaction converts light energy to chemical energy and must take place in the light. The dark reaction, which converts CO2 to sugar, doesn't directly need light to occur.

“We’ve been able to separate the light reaction from the dark reaction and instead of using biological photosynthesis, we are using solar panels to convert the sunlight to electrical energy, then to a chemical intermediate, and using that to power carbon dioxide fixation to produce the fuel. This method could be more efficient than the biological system,” said Liao said.

Liao explained that with biological systems, the plants used require large areas of agricultural land. However, because Liao’s method does not require the light and dark reactions to take place together, solar panels, for example, can be built in the desert or on rooftops. Theoretically, the hydrogen generated by solar electricity can drive CO2 conversion in lithoautotrophic microorganisms engineered to synthesize high-energy density liquid fuels. But the low solubility, low mass-transfer rate and the safety issues surrounding hydrogen limit the efficiency and scalability of such processes. Instead Liao's team found formic acid to be a favorable substitute and efficient energy carrier.

“Instead of using hydrogen, we use formic acid as the intermediary. We use electricity to generate formic acid and then use the formic acid to power the CO2 fixation in bacteria in the dark to produce isobutanol and higher alcohols,” said Liao said. The electrochemical formate production and the biological CO2 fixation and higher alcohol synthesis now open up the possibility of electricity-driven bioconversion of CO2 to a variety of chemicals. In addition, the transformation of formate into liquid fuel will also play an important role in the biomass refinery process, according to Liao.

© UCLA News

0 Comments

Login

Your Comments (Up to 2000 characters)
Please respect our community and the integrity of its participants. WOC reserves the right to moderate and approve your comment.

Related News


UOP licenses technology to petrochemicals complex in Brunei

DES PLAINES, US: UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, announced that its technology has been selected to produce key petrochemicals in a new complex in Bru ...

Read more
Evonik names new President, John Rolando

PARSIPPANY, US: John Rolando has been named president of Evonik Corporation, effective from 1 April 2013. Rolando replaces Tom Bates, who is retiring ...

Read more
India rejects Novartis’ patent for cancer drugs

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI, INDIA: The Supreme Court of India dismissed Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG’s attempt to win patent protection for its cancer drug ...

Read more
Brenntag invests in sulfuric acid dilution plant in Switzerland

MULHEIM AN DER RUHR, GERMANY: Brenntag Schweizerhall AG, the Swiss subsidiary of Brenntag AG, is co-operating with Bayer CropScience and Infrapark B ...

Read more
Toyo bags polyethylene plant contract in Egypt

CAIRO, EGYPT/TOKYO, JAPAN: Toyo Engineering Corporation has been jointly awarded with ENPPI, an engineering company under the Egyptian Ministry of Pet ...

Read more
China extends anti-dumping duties on nonylphenol imports from India, Taiwan

BEIJING, CHINA: China will extend anti-dumping measures on nonylphenol imported from India and Taiwan for another five years starting from 29 March ...

Read more
Copyright © 2014. Kimberlite Softwares Pvt. Ltd., India. All rights reserved.
World of Chemicals.