The greens worst nightmare? A CO2 to Oil process

Protest signs of the future? /sarc

From the University of Minnesota:

U of M researchers close in on technology for making renewable “petroleum” using bacteria, sunlight and carbon dioxide

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/23/2011) —University of Minnesota researchers are a key step closer to making renewable petroleum fuels using bacteria, sunlight and carbon dioxide, a goal funded by a $2.2 million United States Department of Energy grant.

Graduate student Janice Frias, who earned her doctorate in January, made the critical step by figuring out how to use a protein to transform fatty acids produced by the bacteria into ketones, which can be cracked to make hydrocarbon fuels. The university is filing patents on the process.

The research is published in the April 1 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Frias, whose advisor was Larry Wackett, Distinguished McKnight Professor of Biochemistry, is lead author. Other team members include organic chemist Jack Richman, a researcher in the College of Biological Sciences’ Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, and undergraduate Jasmine Erickson, a junior in the College of Biological Sciences. Wackett, who is senior author, is a faculty member in the College of Biological Sciences and the university’s BioTechnology Institute.

“Janice Frias is a very capable and hard-working young scientist,” Wackett says. “She exemplifies the valuable role graduate students play at a public research university.”

Aditya Bhan and Lanny Schmidt, chemical engineering professors in the College of Science and Engineering, are turning the ketones into diesel fuel using catalytic technology they have developed. The ability to produce ketones opens the door to making petroleum-like hydrocarbon fuels using only bacteria, sunlight and carbon dioxide.

“There is enormous interest in using carbon dioxide to make hydrocarbon fuels,” Wackett says. “CO2 is the major greenhouse gas mediating global climate change, so removing it from the atmosphere is good for the environment. It’s also free. And we can use the same infrastructure to process and transport this new hydrocarbon fuel that we use for fossil fuels.”

The research is funded by a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-energy (ARPA-e) program, created to stimulate American leadership in renewable energy technology.

The U of M proposal was one of only 37 selected from 3,700 and one of only three featured in the New York Times when the grants were announced in October 2009. The University of Minnesota’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) and the College of Biological Sciences also provided funding.

Wackett is principal investigator for the ARPA-e grant. His team of co-investigators includes Jeffrey Gralnick, assistant professor of microbiology and Marc von Keitz, chief technical officer of BioCee, as well as Bhan and Schmidt. They are the only group using a photosynthetic bacterium and a hydrocarbon-producing bacterium together to make hydrocarbons from carbon dioxide.

The U of M team is using Synechococcus, a bacterium that fixes carbon dioxide in sunlight and converts CO2 to sugars. Next, they feed the sugars to Shewanella, a bacterium that produces hydrocarbons. This turns CO2, a greenhouse gas produced by combustion of fossil fuel petroleum, into hydrocarbons.

Hydrocarbons (made from carbon and hydrogen) are the main component of fossil fuels. It took hundreds of millions of years of heat and compression to produce fossil fuels, which experts expect to be largely depleted within 50 years.

###

In press at the Journal of Biological Chemistry

Purification and Characterization of OleA from Xanthomonas campestris and Demonstration of a Non-decarboxylative Claisen Condensation Reaction*

  1. Janice A. Frias,
  2. Jack E. Richman,
  3. Jasmine S. Erickson and
  4. Lawrence P. Wackett1

+ Author Affiliations


  1. From the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics and BioTechnology Institute, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108
  1. 1 To whom correspondence should be addressed: Dept. of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics, 140 Gortner Laboratory, 1479 Gortner Ave., University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108. Tel.: 612-625-3785; Fax: 612-624-5780; E-mail: wacke003@umn.edu.

Abstract

OleA catalyzes the condensation of fatty acyl groups in the first step of bacterial long-chain olefin biosynthesis, but the mechanism of the condensation reaction is controversial. In this study, OleA from Xanthomonas campestris was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. The purified protein was shown to be active with fatty acyl-CoA substrates that ranged from C8 to C16 in length. With limiting myristoyl-CoA (C14), 1 mol of the free coenzyme A was released/mol of myristoyl-CoA consumed. Using [14C]myristoyl-CoA, the other products were identified as myristic acid, 2-myristoylmyristic acid, and 14-heptacosanone. 2-Myristoylmyristic acid was indicated to be the physiologically relevant product of OleA in several ways. First, 2-myristoylmyristic acid was the major condensed product in short incubations, but over time, it decreased with the concomitant increase of 14-heptacosanone. Second, synthetic 2-myristoylmyristic acid showed similar decarboxylation kinetics in the absence of OleA. Third, 2-myristoylmyristic acid was shown to be reactive with purified OleC and OleD to generate the olefin 14-heptacosene, a product seen in previous in vivo studies. The decarboxylation product, 14-heptacosanone, did not react with OleC and OleD to produce any demonstrable product. Substantial hydrolysis of fatty acyl-CoA substrates to the corresponding fatty acids was observed, but it is currently unclear if this occurs in vivo. In total, these data are consistent with OleA catalyzing a non-decarboxylative Claisen condensation reaction in the first step of the olefin biosynthetic pathway previously found to be present in at least 70 different bacterial strains.

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h/t to WUWT reader JPE for the starting point link to Science Daily in Tips and Notes

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Arkh

I hope I’m wrong, but “The research is published in the April 1 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.” does sound like some bad joke.
REPLY: Dozens of science websites and magazines are reporting on it, and the release date was March 23rd. The Journal is legitimate – Anthony

P.F.

How many more steps at $2.2 million a crack will it take to prove the concept?

Doug in Seattle

The next question is “At what cost?”

crosspatch

“There is enormous interest in using carbon dioxide to make hydrocarbon fuels”
Well, lets see. There’s lots of CO2 deep down in the earth, volcanoes tend to leak a lot of it. We have bacteria that live in rocks. Hmmm.
Maybe Earth has been making hydrocarbon fuels out of CO2 for a very long time.

Tom Jones

There is a startup company in Cambridge, Joule Limited, which is building a protoype facility in Leander, TX, outside of Austin. They have patented bioengineered algae (which they created) which make gasoline or diesel fuel (different algae) out of CO2 and sunlight. John Podesta is on the board, and they just closed $30M in venture financing. The greens better get ready, because here come the bioengineers.

Matt Taylor

How does this constitute “the greens worst nightmare,” wouldn’t it really be more like “the greens dream come true?” A potential method in which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted into a renewable form of energy! That is something a lot of people on either side of the climatic debate, Republican or Democrat, green or industrialist, etc… would likely welcome if it could be implemented on the large scale. I think you are sorely mistaken if you think climate scientists who advocate climate change have some sort of sick stake in the future of the planet, and will only be satisfied until they see their predictions of warming to n’th degree come true.
REPLY: How? They won’t be able to complain about oil anymore in the CO2 context. – Anthony

Lady Life Grows

I still like superrenewable fuels better. Turning CO2 into petroleum gives us fuel, but only releasing fossil carbons from their long imprisonment in the Earth can green up Earths’s vast deserts.
Also, burning fossils increases carbon-based fuels, such as wood or this petroleum. You eat your cake and have it, too. So you get more fuel out the more fossils you burn. Super-renewable is better than merely renewable.

Maxbert

” fossil fuels… to be largely depleted within 50 years. Uh huh. I’m inclined to look askance at any research which is accompanied by boilerplate nonsense.

Andrew30

We already have a device that can convert CO2, sunlight and water into a flamable liquidl it is called a pine tree.
It does not sound like this process will be less expensive than making turpentine.
I guess the turpentine research grants dried up 50 years ago.
“In early 19th-century America, turpentine was sometimes burned in lamps as a cheap alternative to whale oil. It was most commonly used for outdoor lighting, due to its strong odor. A blend of ethanol and turpentine added as an illuminant called burning fluid was also important for several decades.”
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turpentine

J. Knight

“It took hundreds of millions of years of heat and compression to produce fossil fuels, which experts expect to be largely depleted within 50 years.”
I wish these people would catch up with current and breaking news. Apparently they haven’t heard of the Barnett Shale, Fayetteville Shale, Haynesville Shale, Bakken Formation, Marcellus Shale, oil shales in the West, deep-water discoveries in the Gulf and Brazil, undeveloped prospects in Alaska, oil sands in Canada, huge coal deposits throughout the US, lignite deposits in the Ark-La-Tex, and this is just for starters. These fossil fuels would last hundreds of years. And these are the people who think they are intelligent and educated. Distressing.

Wucash

I’ve seen this on NCIS… it was silly then and it’s silly now.
Whatever, if it works and is profitable then why not? At least it will shut up those eco loons.

Tom Jones

One issue is that to produce useful amounts of fuel, you have to have lots of CO2, and nobody has a reasonable way to get that density of CO2 from the atmosphere. You get it by burning fossil fuel. There would be lots of CO2 coming from the generation of electricity with coal or gas. It might be pretty useful if they could generate transport fuel while they are at it.

Oakden Wolf

Beat ya 2 it. I wrote this yesterday:
“OK, it sounds really strange to be talking about recycling carbon dioxide — but it could happen. Imagine not sucking fossil fuel petroleum out of the ground, but actually MAKING it with carbon dioxide. So either extract CO2 from the atmosphere (admittedly that would cost a bit), or pipe the CO2 generated by primary fossil fuel energy production to a second plant where the CO2 is put to work making more oil — the biggest problematic thing in this 1st and 2nd law of thermodynamics nightmare would be finding the power to run the second process.
Now, I have at length chided the advocates of solar and wind power about the fact that solar don’t work good when the sun don’t shine, and wind don’t work good when the wind don’t blow — but I can see using these in production mode to make renewable oil. And if the net result is CO2 neutral, then maybe, just maybe, we have something here.”

Matt Taylor

RE: Anthony. I would argue that any “green” that is more concerned about the loss of a talking point over the gain of a potential energy source is more of a subversive dissident [of the establishment] than a true advocate for environmentalism.

John F. Hultquist

“There is enormous interest in using carbon dioxide to make hydrocarbon fuels,” Wackett says. “CO2 is the major greenhouse gas mediating global climate change, so removing it from the atmosphere is good for the environment. It’s also free.
Well, let’s give them a pass on the GHG bit; they need that for continued funding. But the idea of “removing it from the atmosphere” is somewhat of a problem insofar as it is very dilute. One will have to process a large volume of air to make a barrel of oil. That brings us to “free.” Some such notion may be construed if producers of CO2 are forced to capture the stuff and dispose of it – that is, capture, store, transport and give it for free to the bacterium growers. “Free” doesn’t seem to be the best-fit word for this activity.
Wake me when they have scaled this up to a super-tanker full of oil without a massive subsidy from tax payers (see wind power), then recapture the CO2 as this “new” oil is consumed. Otherwise, there is no net reduction in the atmospheric level of CO2 after the process has been operating through the full sequence. Or did I miss a step?

Carbon Science is way ahead on a related process to turn CO and water into Fuel using an enzyme originally extracted from a bacteria and stabilised in a nanosphere and fullerene tree structure. The enzyme, I believe, runs on Heat and UV. The process makes methanol and can, with another step, make petrol.
Carbon sciences also developed a cost effective way to combine mine tailings with CO2 to make chalk. A profitable form of carbon sequestration because the chalk sells for more than the carbon price of the CO2 in it. The governments and IPCC has religiously ignored such solutions so the company switched to the fuel making process. That’s now being ignored by the IPCC too.
See http://www.carbonsciences.com/ they are at preproduction stage. The greens will be truly horrified because the fuel plant will be spliced onto the side of a coal fired plant for maximum efficiency.

Keith Minto

‘OleA’ ? , can find a link to olea genus , but OleA ?

Daniel Maxson

Speculator mode on:
Let me see if I have this right. Pull my life savings out of all of my current investments and dump the whole wad into fossil fuel burning power companies now. Smart fossil fuel burners will capture much of their own CO2 rich emissions and recycle them into more fuel and a fatter bottom line. Everyone else will be at a disadvantage as they are forced to pull their CO2 supplies from the CO2 poor atmosphere LMAO. Sell, sell!!
Special bonus: carbon trading dies worldwide overnight. Sorry Al, lemons = lemonade.
Speculator mode off: I sure hope this can be done on a massive scale.

Andrew30

J. Knight says: March 29, 2011 at 9:41 pm
“And these are the people who think they are intelligent and educated.”
It is important to understand how to read these things. Whenever you see the generic term “expert”, or “scientists” you need to substitute the phrase “no one”. If the sentence actually contains the Name of a Person, or a Phycical Law, or a Falsifiable Theory then it requires actual investigation.
“which experts expect to be largely depleted within 50 years”, becomes “which no one expect to be largely depleted within 50 years”
“The scientists claim that the glaciers will melt by 2050” becomes “No one claimed that the glaciers will melt by 2050”
“The scientists said that if the warming had stopped then the oceans would be cooling” becomes “No one that if the warming had stopped then the oceans would be cooling”.
All you really need to do is to look at the phrase as it will appear in the future, and it will not bother you so much in the present. I’m sure that you can come up with other examples where the “experts” or “scienticts” have been disolved out of some predictions, leaving “no one” in their place.

John F. Hultquist

At 10:00 pm
I forgot to mention that being downwind from a facility that is sucking all or almost all of the CO2 out of the air would soon be a vegetative dead zone!

Mike McMillan

Plants using sunlight to make something useful from CO2. Not the most original concept, but if they can make gasoline without subsidies, I’m all for it.

Sully

Where are the vast ponds or algae and water filled solar collectors going to be located?

Aaron Schnelle

50 years? Experts? Do these people not have editors?

Eric

You can get one of these that already works .. cost $10,000 2.2million would buy alot of them. Just sayin.

Brian Johnson uk

Can it be any more expensive than the present madness of using food producing land for the production of very expensive so called Green Bio Fuels?

Alcheson

The concern in my mind is still the energy is basically conversion of solar energy back into chemical energy facilitated by bacteria. Therefor, how enormous of an area of bacteria/sunlight farms is going to be required to generate 20million barrels per day of oil? It is undoubtedly huge.

Dr. Dave

Ehhh…just because something CAN be done doesn’t necessarily mean it SHOULD be done. I applaud the researchers who took this on. At this point we don’t know if it has any practical application. Maybe it does. But I’ve seen this in the medical sciences a bunch of times. Somebody comes up with a new and innovative theory and actually proves it works…only to find out later that it unsuitable for clinical application. You can extract gold from seawater, too, you know…

Doug

“Hydrocarbons (made from carbon and hydrogen) are the main component of fossil fuels. It took hundreds of millions of years of heat and compression to produce fossil fuels, which experts expect to be largely depleted within 50 years.”
Wrong on both accounts. Most fossil fuels produced today are from source rocks younger than “hundreds of millions of years.’ Many are not even tens of millions of years old. And I don’t know how one defines “largely depleted”, or “experts” but I. an my potentially expert peers in the business suspect there will still be quite a bit around in 50 years.

Chuck Dolci

OK, I am not a scientist (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night) but I am an old man and have been around the block a few times. There have been many times in the past when some new and exciting technology was being touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread and was going to solve all the problems of the world. And then after all the hubbub dies down the great new technology fades away into obscurity.
The great and meaningful break throughs have always come unexpectedly and with little or no fanfare.
I’ll be impressed when they actually have something that will succeed in the free marketplace without massive taxpayer subsidies. I am not a denier – just a skeptic.

Eyal Porat

“CO2 is the major greenhouse gas mediating global climate change, …”
I really hope their knowledge in chemistry is much better thank it is in climate.

philincalifornia

Keith Minto says:
March 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm
‘OleA’ ? , can find a link to olea genus , but OleA ?
______________________________________
It’s the name of the specific gene.
Your link got it with the first hit.
Here’s a link to the abstract from PubMed, in case it wasn’t linked anywhere above
http://www.jbc.org/content/286/13/10930.short

Rhys Jaggar

One of the abiding principles of the natural world is its cyclical nature. You find something, somewhere, which will reverse whatever another part of nature does. It’s not quite like Newton’s ‘for each and every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’, at least, we don’t understand nature well enough yet to show it to be true. But in general, if you look hard enough, you’ll find it.
This is really great science and worthy of patenting.
The real question will come with the engineering questions: how efficient is it now, how easy is it to do Moore’s Law on this system and, most important of all, how can we scale it up?
It’s far too early to say that this will create ‘renewable oil’ on a grand scale, but as an example of human ingenuity being applied to a long-term problem, it’s great stuff.

philincalifornia

PS OleA; Pardon me, I should’ve said “gene product” not gene, as in protein/enzyme.

Paulo

It already exists, a newly built factory in Spain.
http://www.biopetroleo.com/english/
http://www.tagtele.com/videos/voir/65750/1/

“The greens worst nightmare: A CO2 to Oil process”
Do you WUWT folks listen to yourselves?
What’s up with the totally demonizing of “greens” ?
And the disgusting fantastical twisting of other’s motives?
You folks have actually convinced yourselves that greens don’t want solutions.
It’s sad and helps explain my sense of hopelessness everything I try to reason with Global Warming “skeptics”
REPLY: One of the biggest problems with AGW proponents is a lack of a sense of humor, that image used to read “no blood for oil” note the /sarc label
Have fun being angry! – Anthony

Matthew

Isn’t there a direct chemical conversion as well? Though ISTR it’s pretty energy intensive.

Ross

There are obviously a number of people working on similar processes. In NZ there is Lanzatech which is a fair way down the track –ie. outside the lab now.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/business/4774809/Lanzatech-looks-to-go-global-without-leaving-home

Very intresting and it made my day with some positive news after reading another bunch of scaremongering from the MSM about Fukushima.
Now if this new green-stuff can be grown in greenhouses under led-lighting than it becomes even more intresting. Greenhouse-farmers in the Netherlands are discovering the benefits of growing under colored led-lights has a positive effect, the investment is costly but as one farmer said, i can mount these led-lights real close to the plants because the heat production is practically zero compared to traditional lighting wich tend to burn the plants if you mount the lights to close. So with led-lights he could work with platforms increasing his production, 3x, 4x or even 5 times.
Intresting!

pat

Strangely enough, I am seeing more and more reporting on the idea of the abiologic origin of petroleum in publications. An idea discredited for over a 150 years by the West. Now I read of the general acceptance of the geologic origin on most of the methane on Earth, and huge amounts of CO2. And hints that natural gas may not be biologic in origin are now being reported in literature.
Is something happening here?
Whatever is happening, it is fun.

truth

Will this be a Carbon Capture and Conversion project—with the CO2 being captured from coal-fired power stations—allowing coal to continue to be the main energy source for electricity?
And what will the emissions be from the use of this new fuel?

ferdberple

re: See http://www.carbonsciences.com/
They are reportedly combining methane and CO2 to produce gasoline. Maybe:
14CH4 + 2CO2 + 3O2 ===> 2C8H18 + 10H2O
Can it work?

If they take CO2 out of the atmosphere, won’t that reduce plant growth?

Gras Albert

Anthony
this is neither new nor important, as mentioned by Tom Jones above Joule Unlimited, not only already have patents for a a similar process but are already building an prototype industrial scale plant which will come on line in 2012. The key point about their process is they put sunlight & waste water in at one end and get hydrocarbon fuel out of the other, in a single step with efficiencies 4 to 6 times that of any existing bio concept
Check out some of the ‘names’ on the board of directors

Ken Hall

Matt Taylor: “How does this constitute “the greens worst nightmare,” wouldn’t it really be more like “the greens dream come true?” “

You would think so wouldn’t you? However, allow me to show you some quotes from leading environmentalists,

“Global Sustainability requires the deliberate quest of poverty, reduced resource consumption and set levels of mortality control.”
– Professor Maurice King
“Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it.”
– Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute
“The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.”
– Jeremy Rifkin, Greenhouse Crisis Foundation
“Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”
– Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University

So you see, the leading environmentalists do not want clean energy. They want the de-industrialisation of the developed world, the population of the world reduced from its current 6.8 billion people down to between 100 million and 500 million people who will live like stone age cavemen, apart from a chosen few who will get to serve the elite as their slaves.
More quotes,

“My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world.”
-Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!
“A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. We must shift our efforts from the treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparently brutal and heartless decisions.”
– Prof Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb
“I don’t claim to have any special interest in natural history, but as a boy I was made aware of the annual fluctuations in the number of game animals and the need to adjust the cull to the size of the surplus population.”
– Prince Philip, preface of Down to Earth
“A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”
– Ted Turner, founder of CNN and major UN donor
“… the resultant ideal sustainable population is hence more than 500 million but less than one billion.” Club of Rome, Goals for Mankind
“If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.”
– Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, patron of the World Wildlife Fund
“I suspect that eradicating small pox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.”
– John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal
“We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.”
– Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation, the organization responsible for establishing the IPCC to handle Global Warming issues delegated to it by certain leadership figures in the WMO
“No matter if the science of global warming is all phony…climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.”
– Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment, and responsible for Canada’s contributions to the IPCC
“The only way to get our society to truly change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe.”
– emeritus professor Daniel Botkin
“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”
– Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme

So you see, it really is an environmentalist’s worst nightmare to have abundant, cheap clean energy, especially energy that reduces mankind’s emissions of CO2. Why do you think that these kind of real and positive technologies struggle to get grants of only tens of millions, and governments are placing billions and billions into technologies that do not work, like wind farms?
Why do you think that the leaders of the environmental program are telling us that even if we stopped ALL global emissions, that CO2 created warming would not decline for 1000 years, to hit us with the terrifying urgency and absolute necessity to change, yet they keep flying round the world to their lavish conferences?
They do not want clean energy. They want the end of industrialisation and developed humanity and the global population reduced. They do not want you to live as you are today, but without emitting CO2, they want you and me and almost everyone else to be dead.

Michael in Sydney

Dear Citizenschallenge
I believe it is entirely appropriate to demonize the Greens as they preach tolerance yet are the most intolerant and dogmatic members of society I’ve ever had the misfortune meeting if you do not believe what they believe or want to live as they want you to.
I absolutely believe the Greens do not want a solution to the energy supply that allows our society to maintain the affluence it has worked so hard to achieve.
Kind Regards
Michael

Keith Minto

philincalifornia says:
March 29, 2011 at 11:06 pm ,
Thanks, had not seen the term before. Do you have any more information?
OleA catalyzes the condensation of fatty acyl groups , but does not describe what it is exactly.

a jones

Few, if any of these technologies are new. For instance the earliest patent I can trace in respect of generating electricity from salt and fresh water alternately, see article below, dates back to 1901. This particular synthesis may be new, or not: that is not the question.
The question of all these wonder technologies is are they commercially viable? Compared to existing methods.
The current collapse in private green investment, despite support from governments, shows exactly what is wrong. Despite subsidy they are losing 50 cents on the dollar. It is not that the technology does not work. indeed most of it is very old, it is that it is costly and ineffective and cannot meet demand at the price required.
Synthesis of foods from hydrocarbons is a relatively young technology but it is notable that Pruteen failed in the marketplace from being too costly whereas Quorn still has a tiny niche market.
Its counterpart, making fuels by synthesis is perfectly practical but has never proved profitable: and I doubt this, however ingenious, will either.
The simple fact is if you want fuel there is plenty of coal, oil and gas not to mention fissile materials. They just need extracting.
Coal and its younger relation peat, which simply needs a few hundred million years to grow up, is certainly of biological origin, and petroleum probably too. Natural gas is more of a puzzle, it is possible that some sources could be abiotic but it is far from certain; maybe it could be synthesised deep in the earth by natural processes, more likely it simply comes from outgassing from primordial processes: as CO2 does.
Whichever there is an awful lot of it about. Very cheap and handy too.
Kindest Regards

Sean Houlihane

I am sure that a proportion (maybe the more vocal ones?) of greens are in favour of energy poverty. It might be a guilt thing, or it might be the result of an argument derived from excessive extrapolation (the only way to balance the budget with existing tech. being to decimate our energy requirements). Frequently, overpopulation is brought up as a related issue.
My observation is based on reading reactions to tech which improves efficiency (heat pumps, hybrid vehicles) – a lot of the time there are complaints that boil down to cheaper energy being a retrograde step. The AGW discussion is not necessarily the same one as the 30+ year old ‘green’ arguments.
If this tech can be used in desert environments, I’m interested…

RobB

It sounds great, but I find it very hard to believe that we could ever manufacture sufficient quantities of fuel by this method. Think how much gas we use presently. How long does the process take?

Paulo

$ 30 a barrel…
Bio Fuel Systems (BFS) transforms CO2 into bio-oil PDF Print E-mail
DBS starts in Spain in late January, production of biofuels from microalgae fed by the cement manufacturer Cemex CO2.
“Lead into gold.” This is what Bio Fuel Systems (BFS) by developing a method of accelerated conversion of CO2 into bio-oil, comparable to fossil oil, approved as fuel and can be used to make plastics, solvents, etc.. It took five years to develop BFS method and its filing 22 patents. In late January, the company was formed in Spain by a French expatriate, will start production of biofuel in its pilot plant of Alicante.
This is to capture CO2 from polluting industries and to feed micro-algae placed in vertical tubes exposed to light to support photosynthesis. The number of these micro-algae, selected with the help of universities of Valencia and Alicante for their characteristics, double in twenty-four hours. Every day, half of the tubes was removed and centrifuged. The pulp produced contains 2% to 3% of value-added nutrients, extracts to be exploited, and 97% of biomass, converted into bio-oil by cracking at high temperature, high pressure and without oxygen.
$ 30 a barrel
In this process, 2.2 tons of CO2 can produce a barrel of biofuel and the process itself emits 1.260 tons of CO2. “Producing a barrel then neutralized 940 kg CO2,” says associate director of BFS France, Pierre Baros. “Out of 100 kilometers, a 135 horsepower stock car on bio-oil will neutralize 49 kg of CO2 so that it will issue 19 kg with fossil oil.” BFS assesses the production of a barrel to 30 dollars but intends to sell at the price of fossil oil to finance the investments needed to create its plants.
The unit occupies 11 hectares of Alicante, 20 football pitches on the site of the Cemex cement plant. It will absorb 130,000 tons of CO2 to produce 60,000 barrels of bio-oil and 400 tons of nutrients annually. A ton of nutrients like Omega 3, for example, is now worth 100,000 euros on the market. It should be an area equal to five times Sardinia to produce 85 million barrels per day, global oil consumption, “said Pierre Baros.
Financed by private capital, DBS has already signed two other units, Madeira (Portugal) for a power plant of 10 megawatts (MW) and Venice for a 40 MW plant. “We want 6-8 signed and manufacturing units within three years,” concludes Pierre Baros. DBS already imagine asking her hits in front of a building to recycle the CO2 emitted by the building itself …
http://www.heliogreen.net/content/view/883/24/lang,fr/