Dumb it down
Is it true that scientists have created petrol from air?
Today we learned that a group of scientists from the UK have created petrol that can be used in your car purely from air. We want to know how the hell they did it.
Have scientists actually created petrol from air?
It might sound like a wacky idea that you’d only see in the movies but yes, it’s true. A small company from the north of England has developed a cool new technology called ‘air capture’ and it basically creates synthetic petrol using only air and electricity.
So air and electricity equals petrol? How does that add up?
Well, it’s a fairly complicated scientific process that we probably won’t do any justice in explaining, but sure we’ll give it a go. Basically, from what we’ve gathered, the scientists create sodium carbonate from mixing sodium hydroxide and carbon dioxide found in air (don’t you wish you paid attention in chemistry class?).
Once they have enough sodium carbonate they blast the sh*te out of it with electricity which they call ‘electrolysing’. This in turn produces pure carbon dioxide. Hydrogen is then produced by electrolysing water vapour captured with a dehumidifier. The scientists then mix carbon dioxide and hydrogen to produce methanol, which in turn is passed through a gasoline fuel reactor, creating petrol.
Sounds like there’s more than air being used here?
Yea, that’s what we were thinking too. As we said it’s a fairly complicated scientific process so we’re sure there’s something we’ve missed out on.
We all make mistakes. So who is the company?
They company is called Air Fuel Synthesis and experts in renewable energy have said that this could be a ‘game-changer’ in fighting the world’s energy crisis.
Wow, that’s good news. So which oil company is behind it?
None of them actually, which is fairly surprisingly. The £1.1m project has been in development for the past two years, it’s being funded by a group of unnamed philanthropists. They think this could be a great way of making renewable energy.
So how much of this stuff are they pumping out?
Well, as the company and the technology is still in the early stages they’ve only produced five litres of petrol in the past three months from a small refinery in Stockton-On-Tees, Teesside. They want to extend the plant so that they can produce a tonne of petrol everyday within the next two years.
You say it’s synthetic petrol, so how does it differ from the real deal?
According to Peter Harrison, the company’s 58 year-old chief executive, "It looks and smells like petrol but it is much cleaner and we don't have any nasty bits.”