Carbon-Neutral Gas Is Coming That Cleans Our Air

Technology / 40 Comments

Sci-fi? We certainly hope not.

EVs are pretty widely accepted as the newer, greener path of the automobile. Sometimes, they're pitched as a solution to climate change that we can all buy at a dealership. But some haven't given up on conventional motors yet. Porsche is perhaps the best example. The brand has been exploring synthetic, carbon-neutral fuels for a while now, and being able to run our Porsche 911 on green fuel sounds like a win-win to us.

But it appears that another company might have figured out how to do it better. The firm claims that it can produce a carbon-neutral fuel that'll also clean the air around us. It sounds like a magic cure-all for personal vehicle emissions, but the technology is solid.

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The company's name, by the way, is Carbon Engineering. The Canada-based company has been working on this since 2015 and says it is currently establishing plants that will capture the C02 needed for this process at a rate of a million tons per year. That will then be used to produce methanol, one of a few candidates for an alternative fuel. Most importantly, and not dissimilar to Porsche's synthetic fuel, Carbon Engineering says the approach is a "drop-in replacement" with our existing infrastructure.

That means we'd need very little effort to adapt both vehicles and distribution networks to use this greener fuel. Here's how it works: After C02 is extracted from the air by one of the company's Direct Air Capture plants, clean electricity is used to electrolyzer water, which splits it into hydrogen and oxygen. Then, the C02 and hydrogen are reacted, producing hydrocarbons that can be converted into drop-in compatible gas, diesel, and importantly, jet fuel.

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The jet fuel made is incredibly important. Air travel ain't clean, and this would obviously go a very long way to cleaning up supply chain emissions. But back to cars. In 2008, Lotus actually made an Exige run on pretty much any fuel you could think of, from traditional gas to ethanol or methanol. Alcohol has a unique cooling effect that actually increase the engine's performance, boosting the Exige's output from 240 hp to 270 hp.

So, not only could these fuels be cleaner, but they could also produce highly desirable performance gains. We'd imagine that would go a long way in converting any holdouts to greener fuels.

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