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


US to impose antidumping duties on xanthan gum from China, Austria

WASHINGTON DC, US: The US Commerce Department preliminarily determined that producers and exporters from China and Austria sold xanthan gum in the US ...

Read more
Rentech completes urea capacity expansion in Illinois, US

LOS ANGELES, US: Rentech Nitrogen Partners LP has completed its previously announced capacity expansion project to increase urea production by 21,900 ...

Read more
Synthesis Energy to study gasification technology feasibility for ‘green’ chemicals production

HOUSTON, US: Synthesis Energy Systems Inc has entered into an agreement with an undisclosed US based company to assess the feasibility and optimal use ...

Read more
Jacobs bags Reliance’s petrochemical complex contract in Jamnagar, India

PASADENA, US: Jacobs Engineering Group Inc has been selected by Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) to provide engineering and procurement assistance se ...

Read more
Songwon appoints new Sales Director Europe, Elena Scaltritti

ULSAN, KOREA: Songwon Industrial Group announced that as of 1 January 2013, Elena Scaltritti has taken over the role of Director of Sales for Greate ...

Read more
Evonik invests in Emerald Cleantech Fund

ESSEN, GERMANY: Evonik Industries strengthens its Corporate Venturing activities with an investment in the Cleantech Fund III of Emerald Technology Ve ...

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