Scientists at Los Alamos have figured out how to make liquid fuels from atmospheric carbon dioxide and water for $4.60 per gallon, according to the NY Times. So what’s the big deal? We can already do this: sugar cane to ethanol, or soybeans to biodiesel. The trick is doing it without chlorophyll. No sunlight needed, just electricity, and the electricity can be from any source, even… nuclear.
$4.60 per gallon is not competitive now, but sooner or later it will be. If the process works at all, it will be improved and made cheaper and more efficient. We already know one way run automobiles on nuclear energy: generate electricity in nuclear power plants and charge up the batteries in electric cars. It works, but not very well, mostly because batteries are heavy. Greenhouse gasoline might be another way. The technology is centralized, easy to control, and it doesn’t displace farmland used to produce food. It would work with existing cars and distribution systems; no massive network of charging stations needed.
Greenhouse gasoline would mean that a civilization based on liquid fuels and internal combustion engines could be sustainable. People drive around in their gas-guzzling monster trucks, spewing carbon dioxide into the air. The greenhouse gasoline factories scrub the carbon dioxide back out of the air and make gasoline and the circle is complete.
An article at Physorg.com says the concept is called Green Freedom… is that brilliant marketing or what?
At the heart of the technology is a new process for extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and making it available for fuel production using a new form of electrochemical separation. By integrating this electrochemical process with existing technology, researchers have developed a new, practical approach to producing fuels and organic chemicals that permits continued use of existing industrial and transportation infrastructure. Fuel production is driven by carbon-neutral power.