Carbon Dioxide

New Nano-Catalyst Reverses Combustion to Turn Carbon Dioxide into Fuel

Would it be worth doing in the absence of a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade market?

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CO2LasseKristensenDreamstime
Lasse Kristensen/Dreamstime

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are reporting that they have devised a catalyst using common elements like copper and carbon that can convert carbon dioxide dissolved in water directly into ethanol at room temperature. The researchers suggest that the reaction can be scaled up to process large quantities of the greenhouse gas into fuel. One idea is that excess electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power could be used to produce ethanol that could later be burned to supply energy when the sky is cloudy and the wind is slack. In addition, the reaction could produce transport fuel from the emissions of fossil-fuel powerplants.

From the ORNL press release:

With the help of the nanotechnology-based catalyst which contains multiple reaction sites, the solution of carbon dioxide dissolved in water turned into ethanol with a yield of 63 percent. Typically, this type of electrochemical reaction results in a mix of several different products in small amounts.

"We're taking carbon dioxide, a waste product of combustion, and we're pushing that combustion reaction backwards with very high selectivity to a useful fuel,"[lead author Adam] Rondinone said. "Ethanol was a surprise—it's extremely difficult to go straight from carbon dioxide to ethanol with a single catalyst."

The catalyst's novelty lies in its nanoscale structure, consisting of copper nanoparticles embedded in carbon spikes. …

The researchers' initial analysis suggests that the spiky textured surface of the catalysts provides ample reactive sites to facilitate the carbon dioxide-to-ethanol conversion.

"They are like 50-nanometer lightning rods that concentrate electrochemical reactivity at the tip of the spike," Rondinone said.

They do not speculate on whether it would be worth it to use this reaction in the absence of restrictions—a tax or a cap-and-trade market—on carbon dioxide emissions.

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  1. It could be dangerous. Let’s regulate it.

  2. Can you just slap some of these near the exhaust of a coal plant and get ethanol from the CO2 emissions? “Clean coal”, perhaps?!?! Pretty awesome technology, but there seem to be a lot of these every year (like the always-next year development of large-scale artificial photosynthesis). Hopefully this can go somewhere.

    1. Second Law of Thermodynamics means the energy required to convert CO2 to fuel must be more than the energy released oxidizing fuel to form the CO2, so this putting this on a coal plant would end up requiring more electricity than the plant produced burning the coal to begin with.

      1. Um, the use of the second law makes no sense here.

        They’re not reversing the combustion of the CO2 (which is good, because combustion is not reversible anyway). The introduction of the catalyst (and the discarding of other reaction products besides CO2) makes the system in question not isolated.

        Also, electricity is not the only energy source. Stored chemical energy can be transported for a lot cheaper than the cost of producing the energy it stores as electricity.

        A perfectly valid line of inquiry, however, would be: what exactly is this “catalyst”, how much of it is needed at industrial scales, and what would it cost to maintain that supply?

        1. The second law makes perfect sense here. You want to produce a fuel. To produce it, the second law of thermodynamics requires that you input more energy than you will get out. Period. End of story. You’re going up a thermodynamic hill so you can come back down again when you use the fuel. The second law says that along the way you lose energy through entropy.

          A catalyst never lowers the overall ?H of the reaction. It lowers the activation energy of the reaction, making it happen faster. In this case, the catalyst is an electrocatalyst, meaning that there must be a current flowing through it for it to produce ethanol.

          This catalyst requires high temperatures and certain, let’s call them highly refined, materials to produce. All of these components require lots of energy themselves to make. I don’t know how long the catalyst will last before it’s poisoned and spent, but even if it lasts a long time, it doesn’t diminish the fact that using this process to produce ethanol from CO2 requires more energy input than the ethanol it produces can output.

          1. Look, it made sense in my head.

            Clearly, not so much in practice.

            Even if there was some substance that you could “easily” react with CO2 to produce ethanol, that substance would have to be such a good store of energy that you’d be better off just using it directly.

          2. You say

            This catalyst requires high temperatures

            Ron quoted them as saying

            at room temperature

            How much of the rest of your comment is just made up?

            1. According to the press release, the reaction that turns CO2 into ethanol takes place at room temperature. The production of the catalyst is not described in the press release, but it’s doubtful that a carbon nanostructure can be produced at room temperature.

            2. Juice got the temp wrong, but the rest of his analysis is correct.

              Note that they say they would use this for wind and solar energy. This is essentially an energy storage system.

              Having worked in this field for 35 years, I have my doubts and lots of questions. I have seen numerous reports proven wrong on further examination.

          3. So think less of this as “yay solution to CO2” and think of it as “yay a way to store solar and wind energy”. Theres lots of waste energy around, particularly if you’re relying on solar or wind; take that use it to create ethanol, and you’ve now effectively stored solar energy in a cheap to maintain, easy to use form. It’s not efficient but who cares, you were throwing that away anyway.

            1. Theres lots of waste energy around

              This is perhaps the most specious thing yet said. Where is this “waste energy” coming from and why is it not presently being utilized?

    2. “nanotechnology” is a word they put on crap processes to make it seem legitimate*.
      2 C(s) + 3 H2 (g) + ? O2 (g) -> C2H5OH (l); delta-f = -277 kJ/mol
      to start from C02 and H20 would take more energy. Like Stormy said, energy out = energy in – efficency losses. I call shenanigans.

      *See Al batteries, cold fusion, NanoSolar, etc.

      1. Griffin3, that was one of the first questions to pop into my little engineering brain…
        The very subtle implication in the article was that if you take co2-laden water and run it past or through this catalyst, Ethanol flows out the other end.

        No mention of temperatures, let alone energy INPUT needed to ‘make it so.’

        Need More Real Answers before this unicorn takes flight…

        Ron Bailey should offer an apology after he does more research and publishes a more complete ‘analysis.’

        Sorry, Ron.

    3. Thermodynamics: how does it work? Since the story suggests that ORNL has figured out how to repeal the 0th and 1st Laws, why bother mining coal?

      Burn ethanol, use the combustion by-products to produce ethanol, and then burn it again. Repeat.

      It can’t be patented though, because the USPO won’t patent a perpetual motion machine.

    4. If you put some solar panels on the coal power plant to provide the electricity for the reaction you could scrub CO2 from a coal plant and produce ethanol.

      1. Of course, when you burn that ethanol, you just released all that carbon you “sequestered” back into the atmosphere…

        1. Of course. But, if the process were perfect, there would be no net gain increase in CO2. More realistically, the net increase is smaller than it would be without the reaction. Still a win, if this meets its promise.

          1. … and the solar energy used to create the ethanol could have been put directly into the electrical grid.

            So, now you’ve got ethanol. What do you do with it? How do you move it into the Energy Marketplace?
            Pump it through a pipeline (takes energy)?
            Truck it around the country to refineries to blend with gasoline (takes energy)?

            Is there ANY net gain from this unicorn at all?!

  3. One idea is that excess electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power could be used to produce ethanol that could later be burned to supply energy when the sky is cloudy and the wind is slack.

    Ron, what is produced when one burns Ethanol?

    1. Followup question.

      Does this process require energy or is it magic?

      1. I don’t have a problem with people finding novel ways to ‘store’ excess energy produced by so-called alternative systems when demand is low. Ie, if the sun is glaring or the wind is blowing, but grid-demand is low, it’d be nice to store that energy produced by the solar or wind installations. This addresses that, but I’ve seen this story twice, and twice it’s been kinda-sorta framed as a way to reduce CO2 emissions.

        Now, if they produced this ethanol, carted it away and buried it deep in the earth — you know, like some other natural processes do with carbon– and never ever burn it, sure, you’ve sequestered some carbon… for a while.

        1. Excellent points.

        2. It is ethanol, it should be barreled up and stored for no less than 4 yrs in a newly charred oak barrel with an appropriate amount of limey Kentucky branch water.

          To be unsequestered at a later date, for your leisure.

          1. How much CO2 is produced when you consume this Ethanol and do endless brodies in the parking lot?

        3. Re CO2 emissions:

          It’s because, in general, reporters have no clue what they’re talking about when science is involved. Its the same reason people think toilets go backward in the southern hemisphere due to the coreolis (sp) effect (they don’t) and planes flay because of some magical Bernoulli shit and not “stick your hand out the window of your car while you’re driving, angle it up slightly, lift bitches (mike drop)”

          1. Planes flay if you get to close to the propeller.

      2. Reason Magazine science assumes the Supreme Court will invalidate the Second Amendment to the Law of Thermodynamics.

        1. We need common-sense controls on entropy.

          1. Don’t give them ideas.

            1. Legislatures of Arkansas or Mississippi will look into such legislation soon, I expect…

            2. Legislatures of Arkansas or Mississippi will look into such legislation soon, I expect…

        2. At a first look, this seems to violate the First Law of Thermodynamics. When you burn ethanol, you are getting energy from the bonds of the molecule. To convert carbon dioxide into ethanol, you have to put the energy back into the molecule. Where is this energy coming from? From the substrate of the catalyst? That means the substrate would cool to generate ethanol, which would mean this would be an awesome refrigeration process.

          1. Ok, so it looks like they are running electricity through the substrate. That makes sense, but is also much less impressive.

            1. So it’s a fuel cell in reverse?

              1. Yes. Electrochemically driven.

  4. Fuel? Fuck that. PAR-TAY!

    1. ^This. But that is one of the many reasons why this technology will be buried. Can’t have people producing alcohol without paying government taxes. Why, I bet this technology would fall outside of the current regulations which I believe all have to do with distilling.

      1. “Here is you beer mug.”

        “Tastes like malty water.”

        “Keep breathing into it.”

  5. If its not worth doing in a free market, its not worth doing.

  6. Can someone explain to me why the thing under the head line suggests a carbon tax or cap and trade is needed in the first place?

    What is the deal with wanting something? It feels like just doing something to do something. It wouldn’t have any discernible effect on the climate. This do something-ism is annoying to me.

    How about not do any of this stuff?

    1. Its Ron’s pet project, because he doesnt understand Coase.

      1. …Coase, or Chemistry, Physics, Thermometry, modeling of complex nonlinear systems, Thermodynamics or statistics much, either.

        1. You would think that a science writer would actually have a degree in science. Bailey has a BA in philosophy and economics.

          1. I have nothing against an autodidact, but I don’t think our Ron has autodidacted overmuch.

            1. A euphemistic bravo to you, sir.

            2. The second coming of David Carradine? (Pre-emptive *narrows gaze*)

  7. Transport fuel as ethanol would lower the mpg correct due to less engergy density. Such that going X miles requires more gallons.

    1. Am i making this up?

      1. Nope, not making it up.

      2. No, you aren’t making it up.

        We have to see the math. How much electricity is needed to make this catalyzed reaction go and how much CO2 is produced in the generation of that electricity? If the electricity needed is producing less CO2 than we can convert back to ethanol then this would be worth doing, that is if the production of CO2 is a problem at all.

        The underlying assumption for global warmists is that human CO2 production is inherently a problem but they have fallen far short of showing that it is.

        In the end this reaction would be cycling CO2 back into the energy pathway instead of introducing an equivalent amount of additional CO2 thus could greatly reduce our emissions. I am skeptical. There is no such thing as magic and there is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine. I will ask my father about it, he is quite the chemist and an expert on catalytic reactions.

        If this turns out to be a commercially viable the greenies are going to shit themselves. They and the pols don’t give a tinker’s dam about the earth or the environment or whatever. It is about the money. If we have a solution that precludes a carbon tax they will do anything they can to stop it.

        1. And Ron, every ‘renewable’ energy source consumes more energy than it produces, so no(i.e. costs more than it produces in dollars). Leave the greenie shit out of it.

          Either the catalyst is efficient enough to be commercially viable sans subsidies or it isnt.

        2. The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics say that it will take more energy to make combustible fuel from CO2 than was originally produced in burning the Carbon. That energy has to come from somewhere, and doubtless has a higher-valued economic end use than placating the Warmenistas’ CO2 fears.

          1. The point of a catalyst is to reduce the amount of energy needed to get an endothermic reaction to go. We need to see the numbers on how much energy is required with this catalyst.

            1. The Second Law says you always lose in the transaction. How much, as you say, is a question to be asked, but if the process hit parity, it would be Nobel Prize stuff.

  8. Ethanol + O2 –> CO2 + H20 vapor

    1. According to the paper there is also hydrogen that needs bled off.

  9. I’ve more than kidded on the whole carbon thing, but – really – who will be laughing last when the nano-bots take over?

  10. If its not worth doing in a free market, its not worth doing.

    Seconded.

    Another answer in search of a question.

    1. In a truly free market, all pollution would be banned. Pollution only exists because corporations were able to use political connections to get the government to grant them the power to damage other landowner’s property without permission.

      I’m not allowed to dispose of my garbage by just dumping it on your front lawn without permission. Even if it would be really convenient for me (I mean, now I don’t have to pay a trash hauler to take it away!), it’s still trespass and I’d be liable to damaging your property if I started doing so. If I grind it up into little pieces and throw it really high up into the air or covert it to sludge and dump it in your water supply, that doesn’t change the nature of what I’m doing.

      1. In a truly free market, all pollution would be banned

        Kind of a tautology. Everything called pollution adversely affects someone, so yes. OTOH, you’ll have a hell of a time proving that the same factory that was cleared by the EPA to dump water back into the river when we had PPM quality measurements is now polluting by dumping the same stuff and finding tens of PPB of “pollutants”.

      2. In a truly free market, all pollution would be banned. Pollution only exists because corporations were able to use political connections to get the government to grant them the power to damage other landowner’s property without permission.

        This is way oversimplified. Generally, EVERYONE (corporations included) were dumping their pollution in “common areas” because there was a time when no one thought that was a problem.

        But in a “truly free market”, there would be no one stopping you from dumping your toxic waste on my property if I give you permission to do so by charging you a dumping fee.

        “Pollution” comes in many forms– and there are reasonable arguments to be made that pollution sometimes does things (externalities) that people don’t even understand until years later or damage is done. So even in a truly “free market” you may be “polluting” in ways no one even recognizes until decades after it was done. See: second hand smoke.

        1. See: second hand smoke.

          Or, for that matter, gasoline.

      3. In a truly free market, all pollution would be banned. Pollution only exists because corporations were able to use political connections to get the government to grant them the power to damage other landowner’s property without permission.

        Well that’s the 4th or 5th most retarded thing I’ve read all day. When you eat some broccoli, you create pollution when you shit. It’s a waste product. The existence of pollution predates “corporations” by literally billions of years. Insofar as pollution meaningfully and identifiably damages property, yes there ought to be compensation and yes agencies like the EPA essentially give out permission slips to violate the property rights of others. This is what you get when the government gets involved; perverse incentives, theft, property destruction and all manner of rights violations.

      4. Pollution only exists because corporations

        I realize you probably mean something a little deeper here, but this is pretty dumb.

        Pollution “exists” because there are useful things obtained from processes that pollute. Which basically includes every process known to man, especially if your definition of pollution is broad enough.

        Pollution can be unaddressed “in the market” for a long time not because of corporate shenanigans but because of two important factors:

        1) an understandable ignorance of its effects, and
        2) a preference for the things obtained from the polluting process over the cost of abating that pollution.

        The second factor is especially noteworthy because most pollution abatement involves ceasing to produce things in practical terms.

        1. 1) an understandable ignorance of its effects, and

          This was a smarter way of writing what I wrote above.

          Thank you.

        2. The second factor is especially noteworthy because most pollution abatement involves ceasing to produce things in practical terms.

          Which would necessitate the death of billions of human beings around the world. It’s fair, I think, to place a higher value on a few billion lives rather than on the value of not having to see unseemly landfills. The production needs to continue and as it does, the free market will solve problems as we go. As it always has. Then again, if we’re talking about a person who thinks you eradicate child labor by simply making it illegal, you’re not dealing with a mind that either knows how to think rationally or has even bothered to try being rational.

        3. No, waste products exist because there are useful things obtained from processes that produce waste. Waste products don’t become pollution until someone decides to save money by dumping the waste products on someone else’s land without permission rather than disposing of it properly.

          When I make garbage, I can choose to store it on my property or I can pay someone else (e.g. someone who built a landfill) to store it on their property. I can’t legitimately just dump it on your law and go, “well, garbage is just the way of things so we must legalize littering.”

          1. Waste products don’t become pollution until someone decides to save money by dumping the waste products on someone else’s land without permission rather than disposing of it properly.

            Its already illegal to dump waste products on someone else’s land without permission, and was long before “pollution” was a thing, you know.

            Under your definition of pollution, there’s practically none, you know. It doesn’t cover air or water pollution, really. Only solid waste dumped on somebody else’s land without permission.

          2. When I make garbage, I can choose to store it on my property or I can pay someone else (e.g. someone who built a landfill) to store it on their property. I can’t legitimately just dump it on your law and go, “well, garbage is just the way of things so we must legalize littering.”

            Storing waste on your property may be undesirable pollution to your neighbors. You get that, right? Somehow, you’ve succeeded in producing an argument that’s making me sound like a raging environmentalist.

            The waste product of your production might come in the form of things you can’t realistically contain on your property.

          3. “Waste products don’t become pollution until someone decides to save money by dumping the waste products on someone else’s land without permission rather than disposing of it properly.”

            I, uh, …..never mind.

            Stormy is always on a streak – winning one or a losing one. I sometimes wonder if this handle isnt manned by more than one person.

            1. Stormy is always on a streak – winning one or a losing one. I sometimes wonder if this handle isnt manned by more than one person.

              Stormy seems to be making an addled anti-corporation rant that almost sounds crafted by some Code Pink wacko, but with “libertarian dressing”.

          4. Waste products don’t become pollution until someone decides to save money by dumping the waste products on someone else’s land without permission rather than disposing of it properly

            So, military superfund sites are not polluted, then?

            I can pollute on my own property without involving anyone else. Any waste that’s not recycled or rendered inert can be pollution.

            If what you’re saying is that a “truly free market” has no illegal dumping, then I guess that’s a fine abstraction. In the real world, there have to be consequences for illegal dumping since businesses, governments, and private individuals will engage in such dumping if as you note it’s advantageous for them to do so.

      5. If I grind it up into little pieces and throw it really high up into the air or covert it to sludge and dump it in your water supply, that doesn’t change the nature of what I’m doing.

        It does, actually.

        As the HazMat people say, “the solution to pollution is dilution.”

      6. In a truly free market, all pollution would be banned.

        Doesn’t sound like a free market to me, what with all this banning of economic activities that produce pollution.

        I’m curious, what could we do that doesn’t produce any pollution? I’m thinking we’ll all be eating raw food, for example, since there’s no way to cook food that produce pollution.

        1. make that “that doesn’t produce pollution”.

        2. Not sure where you’re going to poop, but uhh, pooping on your property produces externalities that go beyond your property.

      7. I’m not allowed to dispose of my garbage by just dumping it on your front lawn without permission.

        I’m also not allowed to dump shit into the creek upstream of your property… meanwhile, the EPA allows cities’ wastewater sewers to overflow into the local river everytime we get more than an inch of rain.

        Freemarket for the win.

  11. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? We can capture CO2 from emissions, tax it, turn it into fuel, then tax it again! Think of how much money our government would get! Our economy would be booming!

  12. Am i making this up?

    No. Ethanol is not an efficient store of energy compared to gasoline or diesel.

    1. Ethanol is actually a fairly decent store of energy, having 61% the energy density by volume of gasoline.
      Compare to:
      Liquified Natural Gas: 64% in compressed tanks
      Hydrogen, Compressed: 16% in explosively compressed tanks
      Lithium Ion Battery: 8%
      Lead Acid Battery: 2%
      Compressed Air: 0.6% (retarded, but they still say it’s a reasonable way to power cars).

      Basically, ethanol has a good chunk of the energy of gasoline, and shares it’s best property: it’s a well-behaved liquid at standard temperature and pressure, ideal for filling tanks. If you could use it as a “green” energy storage medium, it would save a lot of time and energy spent chasing alternatives that will NEVER be safe or economical. Would anyone here NOT sacrifice 1/3 driving range or having a 50% larger gas tank, if we could have people stop foolishly yammering about electric or hydrogen powered cars?

      1. Right. Ethanol is not an efficient store of energy compared to gasoline or diesel.

  13. I knew Bailey would post about this!

    I’m cautiously optimistic. This is exactly the kind of technological breakthrough we need–and that’s an excellent reason to be cautious.

    The solution mentions nanotechnology, too, which is another reason to be cautious.

    It’s the best thing since cold fusion.

    It’s the Gault motor–making energy out of the air!

    I hope it’s real. I hope it’s as real as real can be and as cheap as rainwater.

    1. Galt.

      You caught the John name-mangling disease.

      1. Who is Jon Gault?

        1. Willie’s slower brother?

    2. This is exactly the kind of technological breakthrough we need

      It’s definitely the kind of breakthrough needed to secure future grants and tenure for any assistant professors involved in the project.

  14. One idea is that excess electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power could be used to produce ethanol that could later be burned to supply energy when the sky is cloudy and the wind is slack.

    Rube Goldberg to the rescue!

    1. Actually, it was Al Capp (of Li’l Abner fame) who invented the Smogmobile.

    2. There’s a problem with what to do with solar and wind when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining–how to level supply. And this could help with that. You burn ethanol at night and when the wind isn’t blowing. Okay.

      There are other problems with wind, too.

      The state of South Australia has been run by the Green Party, or so I understand, for a long time. Going back to when Gilliard was in power, they made a big push for wind generation.

      Anyway, a few weeks ago a typhoon blew through and knocked out the wind farms. The entire state experienced a black out.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ 2016_South_Australian_blackout

      Australia has vast reserves of coal. It’s the third largest coal producer in the world, even if you count the EU as a single country.

      1. Ethanol is likely not a solution since it takes much more energy to produce it than is released by burning it using currently known processes. The article is discussing a way to capture waste CO2 and turn it into a usable source of energy, but solar and wind produce no waste CO2 to be captured.

        That leaves familiar forms of energy storage (batteries, gravity, flywheels) and some not-so-familiar ones (like molten salt) but nothing is perfect. There are losses in storage and any large-scale collection of stored energy is volatile and thus can be dangerous under certain circumstances.

        1. “Ethanol is likely not a solution since it takes much more energy to produce it than is released by burning it using currently known processes.”

          That is the point of the catalyst, to reduce the needed energy for production. I haven’t seen the numbers yet.

          1. It reduces the energy needed, but it doesn’t (and can never) reduce it to a degree where you can get more energy out of the ethanol you produce.

            1. No, it does not reduce the energy needed. A catalyst accelerates the rate of reactions. The energy is a state function, i.e. It only depends on the reactants, products, and conditions.

          2. It’s funny, I made a similar argument further upthread (albeit poorly). But you would either have to consume the catalyst or else have some other cheap/abundant reactant providing the bulk of the energy in order to make it cost effective. And if you had such a reactant, why wouldn’t you just use it directly?

  15. Too bad the CO2 has to be dissolved in water. I want a technology that pulls it directly from the air. (Yeah, plants, I know.)

  16. there is also hydrogen that needs bled off.

    All we need now is a fleet of zeppelins.

    1. Oh, the humanity!

    2. Maybe we could, I don’t know, expose it to some oxygen. Preferably, a very little bit at a time.

      1. Yeah, if you do it too fast, you will blow up your potato farm.

  17. I don’t understand the fascination with carbon taxes myself. Just more money with bureaucrats to play with while no discernible effect on the climate (reduced emissions =/= an significant impact on climate)

    1. This.

      Anyway, the *real* bucks are in the *oxygen* tax.

    2. I think your second sentence answered your first.

      1. Haha i know but figure there are some true believers

        1. “True Believer” defined as someone who doesn’t get to spend the money, but wants to rationalize the theft.

    3. I keep wondering why a libertarian publication thinks that if you pay more taxes, the government can control the weather.

      Seriously, I wonder this.

      1. This is where i am at. Why is a libertarian magazine assuming more taxes are needed and that it would have an effect.

        I do like most of Ron’s work though

        1. I guess I am not 100% sure on this, but my understanding was that Bailey’s position is that AGW is real, but only free-market solutions will fix it. I think the reference to carbon tax et. al. was more a preemptive “I Told You So” to any progressive in favor of such things than a “I guess this giant government boondoggle isn’t the only way forward”.

          Maybe i’m just blowing CO2 up my own arse.

  18. Look. I’m quite happy to sell new Carbon-Credit Vodka. Although, it probably costs more to refine the alcohol (distill) than the gain. I’m thinking about CO2 solubility in water and thinking 3.2 beer would be lucky. Yep. 3g/kg, descending with temperature at atmospheric pressure, rising all the way to 8g/kg at 100 atm. Pumping your water up to that pressure will burn more carbon than you get credit for.

  19. If this involves nanotechnology, the progs will be against it.

    If this derails their plan to move to a completely “renewable” (by which they mean only solar or wind power) energy grid, then progs will oppose it.

    1. You can’t reason with progs. They will end up being against wind and solar too.

      1. Pretty much, especially when they realize the wind and the sun contribute to coastal erosion.

        1. Bird strikes, bird frying, lack of animal land.

          1. As well

      2. Especially once someone can make money off of it without a government handout.

    2. It’s “nanotechnology” just because the catalyst particles are nanometer sized (

      1. oops.

        LESS THAN 100 nm.

        There are gold nanoparticles (like the copper ones here) in ancient glass. Michael Faraday was making gold nanoparticles in the early 19th century.

  20. If we want to see roaring success regarding the fight against climate change we need to look at Cali prop 39!

    – promised to create 33K green jobs in 3 years by helping buildings be environmentally friendly

    Result?

    1200 jobs, a board that hadn’t met and vast majority of money raised and spent went to consultants

    1. So it did exactly what it was designed to do, funnel money into useless jobs and into crony pockets. One of the things they don’t teach in school is the nature of the economies of fascist nations. Abstract of fascism leave out the true nature of it: Cronyism writ large.

  21. I am starting to wonder if liberals/progs most of them don’t want to actually fight climate change as it is really become a part of their identity. It is scary to them if the world isn’t near catastrophe because that would mean they would have to re evaluate their self worth.

    1. They never wanted to do any of that. Their cause is a pretense for taking your money, nothing more.

      1. I agree the green cronies but your standard prog with no power I mean. The facebook warriors

        1. Also known as useful idiots. They don’t know or believe anything. They simply parrot back what they have been told to say. Also, histrionics.

      2. For some it is pure moral totem. The rush of self-love that comes from standing up to evil. Whether or not what you’re standing up to is actually evil is somewhat beside the point.

    2. Progs are never interested in a solution; they only want the issue.

      That’s why they dissed nuclear, and that’s why they dissed fracking. Whenever a technology offers a real-world solution, the progs can always be relied upon to call for its ban. That’s the only way they can keep the issue.

      Same situation exists for poverty/race/sex/etc.

      1. Yep essentially the iron law of bureaucracy

  22. If someone invents a cheap and effective technological “Solution” to human ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions?

    It will be destroyed/banned/opposed by everyone.

    There’s too much money involved in the entire Doom Mongering industry. They don’t want solutions. They want a bigger permanent problem to be pretending to solve (*by robbing the public).

    1. ^This^

      My wife is nearly as cynical as I am. I once asked her “What would happen if you discovered a cure for breast cancer?”

      She never looked up from her iPad and in a flat, matter of fact tone answered “Susan B Komen would hunt you down and kill you.”

  23. They do not speculate on whether it would be worth it to use this reaction in the absence of restrictions – a tax or a cap-and-trade market – on carbon dioxide emissions.

    It doesn’t matter if it is extremely feasible to end carbon emissions, they will claim there’s a need to cull your liberties and steal your property.

    The left doesn’t want to live in a world without a moral imperative that enables them to accrue political power to destroy capitalism and prolong abject poverty.

  24. In a truly free market, all pollution would be banned.

    Wrong. “Pollution” would have meaningful costs attached, and those costs would be paid, insofar as practicable, to the persons directly affected by said pollution, and not to the government.

    Unless your definition of “free market” is a prehistoric hunter gatherer society, in which case you can fuck right off.

    1. But am I free to gambol?

  25. So what you are saying is that they have figured out a way to turn club soda (carbon dioxide dissolved in water) into vodka?

    I think there are going to be a LOT of college students interested in replicating this research

  26. Actually, it was Al Capp (of Li’l Abner fame) who invented the Smogmobile.

    Rube Goldberg is the patron saint of pointless complexity.

  27. If this involves nanotechnology, the progs will be against it.

    OMG GMO ethanol!

  28. New Nano-Catalyst Reverses Combustion to Turn Carbon Dioxide into Fuel

    “Sorry, but no, that won’t appease the Angry Volcano God!” said the high priests of the Angry Volcano God (a.k.a. Climatey Changey.]
    “We need to supply the Volcano God with more and more virgins to consume!” [Translation: we still want socialism]

    One idea is that excess electricity from renewable sources [spits coffee on to screen] like wind and solar power could be used to produce ethanol that could later be burned to supply energy when the sky is cloudy and the wind is slack.

    Excess electricity. How sweet.

    1. “One idea…”

      No.

  29. Meh. Nice work. Well done, but it’s not that useful, honestly. It takes less energy to grow a grain, ferment it, and distill the alcohol than this process.

    1. I dunno. Growing grain takes quite a lot of energy. It is going to depend on the cost (in energy, measured in dollars) of harvesting the CO2, producing the carbonic acid, producing the catalyst and then running the reaction. That, overall, is the efficiency of the catalyst. We are gonna need to see the math.

      1. I forgot to include the separation of the reactions products.

        1. With the above process you still have to distill the ethanol.

          Regardless, you’re never going to get more energy out of the ethanol than you put in. At least with growing grain part of the energy input is covered by the sun.

    2. Yeah but still, I think of this more as a solution to problem of climate change activism than to the problem of climate change.

  30. If this actually works, does that mean that they can stop subsidizing corn? It’d be nice if the price of beef, et al would come down.

  31. RE: New Nano-Catalyst Reverses Combustion to Turn Carbon Dioxide into Fuel
    Would it be worth doing in the absence of a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade market?

    This should have been invented and completed by The State.
    This way, more tax dollars could’ve been wasted on research of this project which would only enrich a host of over-educated idiots in academia, feed more tax dollars to another useless bureaucracy, and produce nothing but a cash cow for academics and bureaucrats. Now the incompetent and the needless will have to hungry tonight again because of a bunch of selfish and cruel capitalist determined to make our world a better place.
    I hope they’re happy now.

  32. But a simple appeal to thermodynamics is BS. If you have coal and you burn it, you’ll get electricity and CO2. If you take another electricity source you can convert that CO2 into a useful fuel. So it’s a way to produce electricity and fuel from coal with reduced CO2 waste. Yes there is an energy requirement, but you get a saleable product from the expense.

  33. At the end of the day, this is an energy storage system, not a fuel. Non-carbon energy requires a non-portable footprint- whether nuclear, solar, wind or hydro. Now that you have created electricity, the question is how you package it so that it is useful in a car.

    As others have said, it remains to be seen whether or not the math adds up. But a container with 61% the energy density by volume is way better than the batteries we have today. So if- and I do mean if- the process allows us to store energy for cars with greater efficiency than a battery being charged in your garage, this is a great technology.

    Even absent carbon free energy, we still burn a lot of coal and natural gas to charge all those teslas. If converting natural gas to electricity to ethanol for a car is more efficient than converting natural gas to electricity to a grid to your house and to your car, then even though it is carbon positive, it may be less carbon positive than battery powered everything. (Of course the question then, is whether or not it is more efficient to have a bunch of nat-gas cars and skip the conversions all together.)

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