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


Shin-Etsu’s restores full operating capacity at Shirakawa plant

  TOKYO, JAPAN: Shin-Etsu Group reported that Handotai’s Shirakawa Plant’s production capacity has recovered to the level prior to t ...

Read more
Distributor IMCD acquires Ethnichem in South Africa

  ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS: IMCD Group has acquired South African, Ethnichem. The acquisition will allow IMCD to further entrench its position ...

Read more
Total strengthens its presence in exploration, production in Italy

  PARIS, FRANCE: Total has acquired Esso Italiana’s interests respectively in the Gorgoglione concession (25 per cent interest), which con ...

Read more
Click chemistry creates new ‘stealth’ DNA links

SOUTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM: Scientists at the University of Southampton have pioneered a chemical method of linking DNA strands that is tolerated by ...

Read more
Bayer CropScience to pay $ 750 million for biotech rice litigation

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, US: Bayer CropScience has reached settlement agreements with attorneys representing US long-grain rice growers in the biotech ...

Read more
Royal Society honour for chemistry professor

NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM: Professor Martyn Poliakoff CBE has received one of the science world’s highest honours by being nominated as the new ...

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