With worldwide oil supplies fast depleting, researchers around the world have been trying to find an alternative that could sustain the energy needs of mankind. A team at Israel’s Ben Gurion University may have come up with an alternative fuel, made from water and carbon dioxide.
Unlike other fuel alternatives available today, the “green feed” created at BGU has a significant advantage: it can be turned into fuel using existing oil refining methods and delivered to gas stations using existing infrastructure. Professor Moti Herskowitz, who led the research team, predicts that this breakthrough technology should be commercially viable within 10 years.
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“It is an extraordinary challenge to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen to green feed,” says Herskowitz, “The technology is based on novel specially tailored catalysts and catalytic processes.” Herskowitz explains that until the process is fully implemented, it will be possible to use the green fuel mixed with other available forms of green fuel.
The process is patent pending, “and we are ready to take off,” demonstrate and commercialize it, asserts Herskowitz. Bench experiments have been conducted and scale-up should be relatively simple, he says. Herskowitz believes that, “As technological breakthroughs, such as carbon dioxide capture from various sources including air and water splitting, become technologically and economically feasible, this process will become the dominant technology for production of liquid fuels.”
A game changer
“The liquids that have been used over the past decade are ethanol (alcohol), biodiesel and/or blends of these fuels with conventional fuels, as will continue to be done in the foreseeable future. These alternatives are, however, far from ideal, and there is a pressing need for a game-changing approach to produce alternative drop-in liquid transportation fuels by sustainable, technologically viable and environmentally acceptable (in terms of greenhouse gas emission) processes from abundant, low-cost, renewable materials,” he says.
Alongside Herskowitz, who is the Israel Cohen Chair in Chemical Engineering, is also the VP & Dean of R&D at BGU, Professor Miron Landau, Doctor Roxana Vidruk and the team at BGU’s Blechner Center of Industrial Catalysis and Process Development also took part in the research.
The Blechner Center of Industrial Catalysis and Process Development has a proven track record of commercializing applications from its basic research. It developed the Aleol product line of fine aroma chemical products which Makhteshim-Agan has set up Negev Aroma at Neot Hovav to produce.
This project is partially supported by I-SAEF (Israel Strategic Alternative Energy Foundation).
Photo: Factory At Sunset – Oil Refinery by Bigstock