Carbon Dioxide

Sucking Carbon Dioxide from the Air to Produce Gasoline?

Carbon-neutral transportation fuels might be possible.


Carbon Engineering

Recycling the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by turning it back into fuel would help slow the process of global warming. An earlier estimate calculated that direct air capture (DAC) of carbon dioxide would be prohibitively expensive at least $600 per ton. But now Carbon Engineering, located in the British Columbia, has published a detailed engineering and cost analysis of its pilot DAC plant that suggests that its technology can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for $94 to $232 per ton.

The low-end figure is based on a scenario in which electrolysis using no-carbon energy sources breaks apart water to provide both the oxygen and—crucially—the hydrogen needed to combine with the captured carbon dioxide to produce hydrocarbon fuels such as gasoline and diesel. Although a lot of media reports on the study jumped immediately to the happy idea that drivers might one day be able to choose between regular, premium, or carbon-free gasoline, the company does not include in its article an engineering cost estimate for transforming the captured carbon dioxide into liquid fuels.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reported in 2016 that electrolysis using wind power could provide hydrogen at a cost of about $4.50 per kilogram. A very, very rough calculation is that 1,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide is composed of about 270 kilograms of carbon. Carbon makes up approximately 86 percent of the weight of gasoline and hydrogen the rest. So a gallon of gasoline weighs about 3.8 kilograms, of which 0.53 kilograms is hydrogen. Again roughly, it would take about 50 kilograms of hydrogen to transform 270 kilograms of carbon into 320 kilograms of gasoline—85 gallons of gas. The NREL's cost for that much hydrogen comes to $225 plus the $94 to capture the carbon dioxide. This would imply a cost of $3.75 per gallon.

That's in the ballpark of the figures offered by Carbon Engineering. The company claims that its scaled-up air-to-fuel system would be able to produce gasoline at about $1 per liter ($3.80 per gallon). It will interesting to see its calculations for the synthetic fuel pilot plant in a future publication. Just for comparison, the price of gasoline in California averages $3.70 and in British Columbia it runs about $4.27 per gallon (in U.S. dollars).

Unabated climate change could become a significant problem later in this century. This prospect encourages a claque of climate doomsters to demand that we degrow the world's economy in order to avert catastrophe. But climate change will not be unabated forever. Whether or not Carbon Engineering's DAC system works out, it does indicate how human ingenuity and continued economic growth will likely make most of the problems associated with climate change manageable.

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  1. Of course, nevermind that the PPM concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is closer to a full-bore mass extinction event than it is to any theoretically dangerous limit. So yeah, lets get that CO2 down below 170~ and watch as pretty much every single living thing on Earth dies.

    Sounds like plan, yeah?

    1. Which is to say that environmental engineering is probably more dangerous than the root cause that makes people want to ‘fix’ things. With that said, it’s still a neat idea. It’s just…very unnecessary and could theoretically be far, far worse than the ‘disease’ it’s meant to cure.

      1. The hubris of man. It takes one volcano or decent sized asteroid to throw us back into an unimaginably cold ice age. This constant onslaught of entitled zealots who can’t seem to imagine a world or life outside of their own narrow experience is getting really boring.

        1. Speaking of Volcano’s, Hawaii should probably be cited for sending more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than probably the rest of mankind for this entire year. Any chance that the taxes in Hawaii will be increased to offset their geological CO2 footprint? Something tells me ‘no’.

          1. Please don’t give team blue any more ideas for taxation.

            1. Team blue would never tax other democrats -oh wait a minute!

            2. Good point, taxing the Earth for it’s farts is right up their alley. They’ve already done this with cows, in fact. It’s a weird world we live in.

              1. They tax rain in Maryland.

                1. Thankfully one of Hogans first acts as Governor he got rid of that. But on cue every single Democrat Candidate for Governor has vowed to bring it back cause “muh the bay”.

          2. I make this exact argument relative to California and their incessant wildfires. Why do liberal states hate the environment so much?

          3. If the EPA could figure out a way to fine Pele for destroying Kapoho Bay, they would.

          4. Actually , I have read that the oceanic flowing lavas like Hawaii , unlike explosive continental ones like St Helen’s and the currently also erupting Mt Fuego in Guatemala , produce very little gas , including very little CO2 .Fuego is almost surely producing more .

            1. That would be entirely wrong. The CO2 source is in the composition of the underlying magma, not in the boundary layer where it cools. While it is very true that some volcanoes emit less CO2 than others, the location where the volcano comes up has nothing to do with it.

      2. Plus which I own the mineral rights to the air above my property so you better come at me with a big check if you want my CO2!

        1. They gonna drink yo milkshake.

      3. Don’t conflate my profession with this nonsense. Environmental engineering is a noble profession primarily concerned with legal compliance and providing clean water.

        This was made by someone who passed unit ops but either ignored or failed basic project management and accounting. I would fail a freshman who couldn’t see the holes in this plan.

        1. My bad, I should have said geoengineering since that’s what it is.

        2. Environmental engineering is a noble profession…

          lol – I took an environmental engineering class at a major university – it was an engineering elective where I was toldcost/benefit is an ugly term not to be used.

          …primarily concerned with legal compliance…

          So you’re equivalent to an IRS agent, but instead of enforcing tax compliance, you try to enforce compliance with EPA mandates.

          Apologies, but it seems your job is ignoble, just like any other beauracrat.

        3. Is that the department that fines people for “draining wetland” when they unblock a culvert to stop their property from flooding?

      4. It’s unnecessary at this time. In the future when we decide not to stick our heads in the lion’s mouth with “renewables” and embrace nuclear, hydrocarbon fuels are probably still the only practical option for transportation.

        1. Hey, now, all we need to make EVs truly viable are batteries that have a 500 mile range and can be recharged in 10 minutes, like a fuel tank can.

          1. Which if you assume the fastest rate of progression over the last 25 years maintained indefinitely would happen sometime around 2147.

            The latter requires MW power levels. Don’t lick that connector.

            1. Yeah, but once every house in America is wired with 408v 3-phase power, it’ll be a lot easier to run industrial grade machine tools in your garage.

              OK, so, maybe I’m the only person who cares about that.

              1. I wish (208v) 3 phase was available in houses, at least in garages if not also kitchens.
                Beyond that, it would be nice if 240v was more common for kitchen appliances too.

                Portable induction cooktops, microwaves, toaster ovens, blenders/food processors, etc. would be a lot more effective if they could utilize more than 1500w max.

          2. You will run into the same issue with the minerals needed for the batteries and then disposal of waste batteries.

      5. As an interesting note, look at figure 2 on page 667 of this…..3441.x/pdf . At 150 ppm CO2 that plant is doing really poorly.

    2. B: It’s recycling the CO2 (kind of the way plants do), not lowering the concentration. If it works it would mean substituting for fossil fuels and emitting less overall CO2 into the atmosphere.

      1. B: It’s recycling the CO2 (kind of the way plants do), not lowering the concentration.

        So, you’re saying that the whole impetus behind this breakthrough is to keep CO2 at 400ppm?

        Even if I believed that lie, BYODB’s statement still stands, 400ppm is where plant life locked a good portion of the carbon into the ground to the point that the biosphere doesn’t support the larger numbers of larger organisms that it used to. We’re much closer to being carbon starved atmospherically than we are to being carbon suffocated and the specific capture technology will only work better in a carbon saturated atmosphere anyway.

        1. Yes, dumbasses, let’s reduce this complex subject to one factor: the optimum CO2 concentration for higher plant growth. What about global temperature and it’s effect on various species, the release of methane from permafrost or the continental shelves, sea level and the amount of arable land that could be flooded, the balance between CO2 and O2, precipitation levels and air circulation levels, ocean acidity, the global oceanic cicrulation pattern and its effects on global climate, soil erosion, etc.

          Come on, guys, as libertarians we should respect the unpredictability of complex systems and unseen effects.

          1. Yes, irrational panic over assumed runaway positive feedback loops on a planet that has mostly maintained its temperature in a fairly stable range is, of course, the most reasonable stance to take.

            1. Wrong.

              Go ahead, move those goal posts.

              1. Spoken like the good little precautionary principalist. Younger Dryas what’s that? the fact that the planet has maintained it trmps within a roughly 10C band argues strongly against runaway positive feedbacks.

                Just because Arrhenius showed that ECS is in the range of 1.5C. Just because all of the positive feedback models have failed to demonstrate any skill at predicting temps. None of that stops you from being a true believer.

                Now tell me the ones about the thermohaline conveyor might shut down! (This is currently out of favor in the climatastrophist circles) Or the new hotness about ocean acidification (to levels well below those present when aragonite corals and shellfish evolved).

                1. Yep, like I predicted. Your claim “a planet that has mostly maintained its temperature in a fairly stable range” has now become “the planet has maintained it trmps within a roughly 10C band.” And even that is wrong.

                  You could stop fighting against the facts and instead use your energy to argue that the government should not get involved in mandating carbon emissions. But no, you will continue to run head-on into a wall of facts.

                  1. Apparently you don’t understand the meaning of the word “mostly.” Unsurprising given your lack of understanding of the science you fear so much. Hell, you were even worried about the ratio of O2 to CO2 concentrations above. Hint: 200,000 ppm doesn’t care about 400ppm.

                    Let’s talk facts, sport.
                    Fact: The planet has warmed at a rate 1/3 that predicted by the models.
                    Fact: the tropical tropospheric hotspot isn’t there.
                    Fact: the models cannot predict ENSO
                    Fact: the daily ocean ph balance changes more than the modest shift from the modest increase in atmospheric CO2.
                    Fact: the models completely failed to prwdict the pause
                    Fact: CO2 ferilization has led to a greening of the planet over the last 30 years and INCREASED agricultutal output.

                    But, please, don’t let any of those facts deprive you of your doomsday prediction fetish.

                    1. None of that addresses anything I said. I didn’t bring up any models. I brought up logical cause and effect relationships. You sound like a prog, who, when faced with the economic logic that higher minimum wages cause unemployment, replies with data points for when that didn’t happen. Those data points do not negate the logical economic conclusion.

              2. Like CO2 and temperature is highly correlated.

                1. Rebuttal for apparent discrepancies during Ordovician and Jurassic-Cretacious periods.

                  I should add that the Ordovician was a time of huge change as a result of the evolution of roots, which greatly increased erosion and pedogenesis. This caused the subsequent carbon burial and the resulting ice age and extinction. I don’t know too much about the Jurassic-Cretaceous transition yet.

                  1. Skeptical Science is not a rebuttal. It is proof of ignorance.

                    1. Maybe you should attack the arguments and facts presented, rather than attacking the source.

                    2. Lets start with the assertion that “in the early Phanerozoic, solar output was about 4% less than current levels” as fact. It isn’t and he provides no link to support his assertion. His 4% is in fact a theoretical calculation. The problem is he ignores the Faint Young Sun Paradox which contradicts his simple calculation.

                      The faint young Sun paradox or faint young Sun problem describes the apparent contradiction between observations of liquid water early in Earth’s history and the astrophysical expectation that the Sun’s output would be only 70 percent as intense during that epoch as it is during the modern epoch.

                      He either doesn’t know what he is talking about or he is dishonest. Take your pick.

          2. What about global temperature and it’s effect on various species

            Positive correlation in terms of biomass.

            the release of methane from permafrost or the continental shelves

            Even the most aggressive models show this taking thousands of years not the hundreds we worry about AGW on. The only models that are more aggressive literally invent catastrophes. At which point…

            sea level and the amount of arable land that could be flooded

            The amount of arable land lost will be offset by the arable land thawed by 2-3 fold at the least.

            the balance between CO2 and O2

            There is no balance. There’s 400X the amount of CO2 in the air and the requirement to offset O2, concentration-wise to kill off humanity would require us to do what we did for the last 100 yrs. 200 yrs. into the future and/or require us to produce O2 at even more unprecedented levels than we produce CO2.

            precipitation levels and air circulation levels, ocean acidity, the global oceanic cicrulation pattern and its effects on global climate, soil erosion, etc.

            OK, now you’re just being sarcastic.

      2. Yes, it’s ‘recycling’ the CO2 out of the atmosphere and essentially distilling it into a liquid form which by definition would remove it from the atmosphere and concentrate it in a different form. Now, I’m assuming that when it gets burned up in your internal combustion engine it’s re-released but I think we both know that if this technology succeeded and went into widespread use it wouldn’t be long until the recycler is attached to your tailpipe taking that CO2 and ‘sequestering’ it into your gas tank permanently.

        That might be an unreasonable extrapolation, but we’re still far below the 1700-3000 PPM CO2 concentration of just a short 500 million years ago so…it still stands as true that we’re closer to an extinction event via lack of atmospheric CO2 than we are to burning up because of too much CO2.

        As such, I fail to ‘panic’ over a mere 350-450 PPM of CO2 today. Especially since I know for a fact that water is a more potent greenhouse gas and we measure that with a straight up percentage rather than PPM. There’s a reason for that, as I’m sure you’re well aware.

        1. There is no way that the recycler is carried onboard unless mr. Fusion comes along. But if we did have that, then there’s no nees for hydrocarbon fuels anyway.

          1. Fair enough, given that it seems this is a net-energy loss even at the current scale according to a few posters below. I’m not a mathematics guy though so I honestly couldn’t say on that point, I’ll admit.

            1. It is always guaranteed to be a net energy loss. All of our processes are. This is useful for storing energy in more convenient forms. For example, aircraft need a high energy fuel like hydrocarbons but carrying that much JP4-8 on board an aircraft carrier increases the size, cost, and vulnerability. If you could make fuel on demand, essentially converting the energy of the nuke plant into jet fuel, then you significantly improved the capability of the carrier.

              This is the real “battery” breakthrough that all the greentards don’t want to admit. Well, ir is if and when it becomes cost effective.

              1. Interesting point. In the instance of an aircraft carrier I’d almost wonder if instead of filtering CO2 out of the air if I might be more efficient (or easier somehow) to do so with the water it’s sitting in. Especially since you’re already sitting in a vast ocean of hydrogen with an even higher concentration of CO2 than the general atmosphere.

                If a huge ship already has a nuclear reactor, this would be a pretty interesting use for it.

                I’m still hoping for fusion, but I’ll admit I haven’t kept up with ITER and that project was basically a cluster fuck last I saw.

                1. I think you are correct on the CO2 source. Ultimately it’s in quasi-equilibrium with the air CO2.

                  Whatever you’ve heard about ITER, it’s worse.

                  1. Whatever you’ve heard about ITER, it’s worse.

                    Well there’s a display for it in the Perot Museum here in Dallas, so on top of all the terrible things I’ve heard about it that’s a pretty dead giveaway that it’s almost definitely worse.

              2. The laws of thermodynamics are a bitch:

                First Law: You can’t win.
                Second Law: You can’t break even.
                Third Law: You can’t get out of the game.

                There’s also a Zeroth Law: There is a game.

                My prediction: nobody is ever going to burn industrial quantities of hydrocarbon that is synthesized from CO2 extracted from air. Nobody. Never.

                1. So you think battieries are going to take over. Yes, thermodynamics are indeed a bitch. They’re even worse when you involve Maxwell’s equations.

                  1. I think fossil fuels work pretty goddamn well currently. A lot of the alternatives being proposed require advancement to be more viable.

        2. Yeah. I’m a bit baffled by enviros who panic at the idea of the world temperature going up by 1C over the next hundred years, and the ocean level rising a half meter. That possibility is a lot better, overall, for humanity, than if the current interglacial ends and the temperature drops 12C and the ocean levels drop 120 meters and ice caps extend down to Kansas.

          1. No it is not. A large portion of arable land would get flooded.

            1. You’re a moron if you believe that.

              1. Ok.

                1. Yes, it is.

                  1. That just proves my point. Thanks for helping. Look at where all that land is! What do you think will happen if the sea level rises? I wasn’t arguing that it already happened. I was arguing that a sea level rise will lead to loss of arable land.


                      No, it doesn’t prove your point because vsea levels have already risen (to points lower than they were during the HCO) and yet rice yields are up. Arw you truly dumb enough to believe in stasis? Or do you believe that plunging the planet into another glaciation would free up all that precious arable land?

                    2. I didn’t make any catastrophic claims. I pointed out that rising sea level will significantly reduce arable land. I don’t know why you are getting so emotional about that undeniable fact.

                    3. I was arguing that a sea level rise will lead to loss of arable land.

                      You’re a friggin genius. Now tell us how much land will be lost at a sea level rise of 1.7 +/- 0.3 millimeters/yearLet me give you a clue. That works out to 1″ every 15 years. In a little over 300 years were looking at a foot.

                    4. Should have been “In a 180 years were looking at a foot”.

            2. So you’re just taking it as read that land that is currently not arable won’t become arable. A curious assertion, to be sure.

              1. Whatever it is, a significant sea level rise would be very disruptive and cause a lot of problems for a lot of people. I agree that it would not be so bad in the long run, possibly even better. But the short term effects of significant changes like that would be very disruptive and dangerous given how much of the population of the world lives in low lying coastal areas.

                Whatever happens, humanity can adapt. But shit can get pretty ugly along the way.

                1. We’ll somehow manage to outrun 3mm per year.

                2. But the short term effects of significant changes like that would be very disruptive and dangerous given how much of the population of the world lives in low lying coastal areas.

                  Except in this case the ‘short term’ effects occur over generations of humanity, just like they always have.

                  If these people were serious, New York wouldn’t be where it is. They’d move it, because eventually it’ll be underwater. Then eventually it will be back above water.

                  Panicking over this is akin to panicking over the next inevitable ice age, which will definitely kill a lot more people than warming without a shred of doubt.

                  1. Yeah, you are right, sea level rise isn’t going to happen in any kind of catastrophic way. Coast lines have changed a lot through human history. It’s not the end of the world.

                    I honestly havwe no idea what to think about climate predictions. Things like sea level rise I agree won’t be huge problems because they will happen very slowly and people will have time to adapt. Things like changing rain patterns or more frequent extreme weather events could be pretty disruptive in the short term too, but I have a feeling that people will deal with that pretty well too.

                    1. Good thing the palmer drought index and accumulated cyclone energy don’t show any worsening of weather then.

                      More fun facts: global warming reduces the thermal gradient of the planet which should reduce severe weather not exacerbate it.

    3. I can’t imagine that’s a significant danger.

      If the costs work out, then people will buy it and it’s a good idea. If not, don’t fucking subsidize it.

    4. This would be carbon neutral. That is, it wouldn’t change the concentration of CO2 at all. For each gallon of this gasoline created, it would be used immediately to burn in a car/truck, releasing all the CO2 back into the air.

  2. A very, very rough calculation is that 1,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide is composed of about 270 kilograms of carbon.

    Why does it have to be rough? It’s 272.9 kg.

    CO2 = 44.01 g/mol
    C = 12.01 g/mol

    12.01/44.01*1000 = 272.9

    1. J: Just rounding numbers to make calculation a bit less complicated.

  3. Nice idea, but the zero-carbon-or-nothing greenies won’t like it because its not as aesthetically pleasing to them as everyone zipping around in shared driverless cars or bicycles. Its hard to say what will happen a few years down the road, but at this point, it looks like most passenger cars will be electric in the near future. Will still need liquid fuel for large trucks, planes, and ships though, and heating in some places.

    1. They will hate it because it does not further their true goal of kneecapping capitalism. I see their inevitable reaction as akin to the anti-smoking zealots’ war against vaping.

  4. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reported in 2016 that electrolysis using wind power could provide hydrogen at a cost of about $4.50 per kilogram.

    Compressed and transportable? Doubtful.

    Again roughly, it would take about 50 kilograms of hydrogen to transform 270 kilograms of carbon into 320 kilograms of gasoline?85 gallons of gas. The NREL’s cost for that much hydrogen comes to $225 plus the $94 to capture the carbon dioxide. This would imply a cost of $3.75 per gallon.

    WTF? But I highly doubt they plan to reduce CO2 to black carbon and then react that black carbon directly with hydrogen to produce gasoline. This could be done, but only very inefficiently even with state of the art catalysts and you won’t get back the energy you put in.

    the company does not include in its article an engineering cost estimate for transforming the captured carbon dioxide into liquid fuels.

    LOL, ok. Yeah, I bet they don’t.

    1. Juice, just a note, you don’t have to turn it to carbon. All you have to do it turn it into carbon monoxide. You can somewhat reverse the standard syn-gas method by cranking the heat up a lot so that the H2 and CO2 turns into CO and H2O.

      The sheer scale of energy used in each step of this process is insane, though. taking it from a stack, maybe. From the air? Fraud. Definitely fraud.

      1. I know about syngas, but that’s not what the post talked about. It talked about taking CO2 to carbon and reacting that with hydrogen.

        Anyway, syngas has been around as long as the petroleum industry and it’s mainly used to produce methanol. Why not just use methanol as fuel? (My first project in grad school 17 years ago was working on catalysts for methanol fuel cells.)

        It’s also used to produce other products, including gasoline and diesel, but you won’t get back the energy that you used to produce these fuels. Not even close.

        reverse the standard syn-gas method by cranking the heat up a lot

        Using wind and solar, no doubt.

      2. According to the article, they plan to use electrolysis to split the CO2, and react it with H2 to make fuels. This sounds different from the syngas process

        1. Hopefully they plan to split it into CO and O2 not C and O2. And they’d better produce H2 on site as well so they don’t have to transport it. And do they plan to do electrolysis on air with 400 ppm CO2 or do they plan to concentrate it somehow or maybe capture plant exhaust or something? Unless they discovered some new catalyst that can efficiently fix CO2 from the air at near room temperature and pressure, then it’s a pipe dream.

          It looks like they did a cost analysis, but left out the most expensive part of the whole process, which is the energy required to pull it off. This is your national lab at work, folks.

    2. WTF? But I highly doubt they plan to reduce CO2 to black carbon and then react that black carbon directly with hydrogen to produce gasoline. This could be done, but only very inefficiently even with state of the art catalysts and you won’t get back the energy you put in.

      Not to mention that, as we’ve already seen and know, the two goals are contradictory. We’d never react back down to octane when methane, ethane, and propane work just fine.

      Ultimately, it’s a solar generator that (still) isn’t as cheap or effective as gathering up the natural gas that already exists and just using it.

    3. …and you won’t get back the energy you put in.

      This is generally ignored by everyone. Who cares if you’re losing energy in the process when the end result is cleaner right? LOL. It’s basically wishing for a perpetual motion machine and expecting to get one.

      1. Fucking entropy wins again.

        1. It always does ^_-

      2. It isn’t about the total (free) energy. It’s about the form of that energy.

      3. Enh. It could be considered a way to repackage nuclear power into a form that standard IC automobiles can use.

    4. The company’s website doesn’t even describe its process to synthesize liquid hydrocarbon fuel from H2 and CO2.

      The only commercial processes along these lines are the Sabatier reaction to make methane, the various steam-methane reforming reactions to reform methane to H2 and CO, and the Fischer?Tropsch gas-to-liquids process using H2 and CO as feed.

      I’m sure that they aren’t relying on magic, but they sure don’t give much of clue of how they plan to turn CO2 and H2 into CnHn-2. All they say is, “Liquid fuels have been synthesized from coal in the past, and are synthesized from natural gas and even municipal solid waste today. AIR TO FUELS? technology builds on this precedent to synthesize fuels from atmospheric CO? and hydrogen.”

      If I interpret this correctly, it’s going to require about twice the H2 that Ron Bailey estimates since the Sabatier reaction is CO2 + 4 H2 -> CH4 + 2H2O.

      Also, it’s going to take gigajoules of energy to turn already combusted fuel back into fuel. The laws of thermodynamics are a bitch.

      1. Just clap harder.

  5. Why do you have to round? It’s 272.8925244262667575551011133832.

    1. Also, threading is difficult.

    2. Significant figures.

  6. Sounds like it could be a pretty cool way to make a buck. If there’s people willing to pay $30/lb for free-range, no hormone added, torture-free beef, then I imagine there’s probably a market for $10/gal carbon-neutral gasoline.

    1. Still cheaper than raw water

  7. …human ingenuity and continued economic growth will likely make most of the problems associated with climate change manageable.

    Human ingenuity will also likely find another “problem” whose only solution is forced economic throttling.

  8. I have heard of a rather weird technology that already exists that sequesters carbon dioxide. It has existed for many millions of years. Using it you can produce food or building materials. It is considered environmentally friendly even. I wonder if anyone has looked into that.

    1. We currently grow trees like a crop to harvest, as a renewable resource. But environazis refuse to recognize this because how dare you utilize the environment to your benefit in a sustainable way, you monster.

      1. And that is what keeps a lot of land forested. If you love forests, don’t buy recycled paper.

  9. $94 dollars per ton of CO2. Last I checked, the cost of CO2 on the carbon trading markets worldwide is less than $10.

    They also fail to say where they will be getting the power for this energy-intensive process. Nor where they will find the energy to use this massive quantity of Syn Gas (half-CO and half H2). Reforming it into methane would be expensive, liquid fuels are more so. The Fisher-Trops reaction just takes a huge amount of heat to work.

    In fact, it is already prohibitively expensive to create gasoline from coal, despite it being a far cheaper source of carbon monoxide than this convoluted mess (and the conversion from coal to CO releases energy instead of consuming it). Where are they going to get the energy for this to work? How much will it cost?

    Sorry, but it’s still more expensive than gasoline even before you add the most important costs. This is essentially impossible.

    They will still gain a whole lot of investment money, though. A sucker’s born every minute.
    I’ll look for another Theranos article in a few years about this.

    1. While the article above only hints at it, the linked article does disclose that they plan to get the power for this energy-intensive process from carefully-selected wind farms in the most wind-friendly locations in the US.

      See below for my comments on the reliability of their assumptions about the cost of wind power.

    2. If one wants a serious answer that might actually work: nuclear power.

      1. Yup. Plenty of good process heat available from MSR designs.

    1. *tightens grip on wallet*

  10. I wonder how much of an effect something like this would have on local plant/animal life.

    1. “Ecological concerns and compassion for other species are for dumb stupid econazi vegan faggots.”

      – Reason commentariat

      1. Sorry that was a heck of a cynical comment. I’ll try harder to be a positive potato.

        1. Seems pretty accurate given a lot of what’s being said elsewhere in the comments.

  11. Do you want Snowpiercer? Because this is how you get Snowpiercer.

    1. Don’t worry, then we can bring up global cooling again! Yay, pendulums!

    2. That is an incredibly terrible movie that I could not stop watching. It’s so bad it’s good.

  12. It is worth noting that the NREL cost analysis includes “wind incentives – such as the Production Tax Credit (PTC), Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and Treasury Grant” as critical assumptions. In other words, that $4.50 per kilogram for hydrogen is subsidized and not a market rate. With the subsidies turned off, there are, as near as I can tell, zero geographic locations in the US that can meet the DOE targets.

    By their own admission, their analysis is also highly sensitive to wind turbine capital costs. In other words, if your wind farm costs more to put up, requires more maintenance or doesn’t last for as long as the sales hype suggests, your numbers are going to be wildly unrealistic. Worse, even assuming the sales specs for costs and maintenance, they used a value of “2% of direct installed capital” for their estimate of Production Maintenance Costs. That’s approximately half what any private industry would assume in a business case.

    Given what we’ve seen in every other area of government contracting and management, I have a hard time believing that wind farms are going to beat that trend of cost overruns and maintenance failures.

    It’s probably also worth footnoting that their analysis was conducted entirely in 2007 dollars. While that was appropriate for the purpose of their original analysis, it does make comparisons to current (or future) gasoline costs more complicated than the article above suggests.

    1. For more, here’s the source document.

  13. Sounds like a rube goldberg perpetual machine to me.

  14. Chemically and thermodynamically, what you are describing is exactly the reverse reaction from burning fuel. Thus it will be very expensive, in terms of energy, and will produce a huge amount of waste heat, to turn CO2 back into fuel if it can be done at all.

    I believe that whoever tries to sell this idea is running a scam, like a bigger and worse Solyndra, on the taxpayers.

    1. If you can find a cheap enough source of energy, Hydro or Nuclear, in the right spot, I could see it be able to perform on an economically achievable level. NOW, weather or not we should create something like this and put it into a bureaucrat or politicians control, is the real question.

      1. No, don’t give bureaucrats or politicians weather control.

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  16. Yea, you should also invest in my plan to extract gold dissolved in the ocean. It’s a sure thing!

    1. If it works better than the plan to grab Russian submarines Manganese nodules from the ocean floor, I’m interested!!

  17. The only reason gas is $3.70 is because of taxes. So if this recycled stuff is $3.70 before taxes, it’s going to be much pricier after taxes.

    1. You weren’t supposed to notice that part. This is a libertarian site after all.

  18. It’s Al Capp’s “Smogmobile”, just a few decades later!

  19. Sucking Carbon Dioxide from the Air to Produce Gasoline?

    Plants are already doing that for us, yet it takes MORE energy to get usable fuel from plants than extracting natural gas from the ground. And Nat Gas burns very cleanly.

    Why are people wasting their time with this? It is further proof that carbon-neutral anything is derived from mysticism or virtual signaling.

    1. Exactly. Nature already invented trees, so…. (same goes for carbon-sequestration!) Just plant moar fuckin treeeeeez!

  20. What is “the right amount” of carbon dioxide that should be in our atmosphere? I seriously want to know. As I understand it, from the point of view of plant life pre- industrial revolution levels were well below optimal. Plant life would rejoice at a doubling of the current carbon levels.

    1. But then the oceans boil off just like Venus!

  21. Bailey still has this infantile belief in GLOBAL WARMING…

  22. Nuclear fucking energy. We’ve had the solution for 50 goddamn years. Imagine how much progress we would have made if we didn’t kill nukes in the 80s. 40 years of technological progress and innovation. An entire new generation of nuclear engineers. We’d have cheap, reliable, melt-down free reactors.

    Luddite environmentalists are the worst.

    1. Yes.

    2. I have to agree. Citing Chernobyl as something that would happen in the U.S. is pretty stupid considering what actually went wrong with Chernobyl. Three Mile Island was pretty bad and revealed some real problems in the industry, but the lesson of Three Mile Island in my opinion is don’t hire idiots to design and run a reactor.

      1. The number of deaths caused by civilian nuclear power in the US is an easy number to remember.

      2. re: “don’t hire idiots to design and run a reactor”

        Pretty hard to do when you insist on either a) letting the government own the reactor or b) letting government decide how to regulate the owner of the reactor.

  23. I sense a great disturbance in the force. It’s like millions of marxists cried out and suddenly went silent.

  24. >>>But climate change will not be unabated forever.

    Ice Age 6: The Abatement, in theaters soon.

    1. Last I heard, some paper estimated that burning all those vile fossil fuels pushed back the end of the current interglacial 60,000 years.

      How’s that for sustainability?

  25. “A very, very rough calculation is that 1,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide is composed of about 270 kilograms of carbon.”

    Huh? Atomic weight of C is 12.01; atomic weight of O is 16.00.

    12.01 / 44.01 * 1000 kg = 272.9 kg.

    I don’t know about everybody else, but +/-1% is not what I’d call a “very, very rough calculation”. I think you mean to say that a very, very rough calculation starts with the fact that there is about 273 kg of C in 1000 kg of CO2.

    Everything after that statement is indeed very, very rough. My estimate would be at least double yours because the Sabatier reaction isn’t free. For one thing, you need 8 parts of H to get 4 parts of H in the CH4 intermediate hydrocarbon product because the Sabatier reaction is CO2 + 4 H2 -> CH4 + 2 H2O. So the H2 requirement is double that indicated in the calculation. Then the gas-to-liquids reaction to convert intermediate methane to liquid fuel isn’t free either.

    But a more obvious question: Why suck CO2 out of 400 ppm air instead of 150,000 ppm power plant flue gas?

    Also, nobody is going to repeal the laws of thermodynamics.

    1. Also, nobody is going to repeal the laws of thermodynamics.

      As ever, Congress is fucking useless.

    2. On second thought, the H2 requirement not double the mass of H contained in hydrocarbon product.

      The nature of steam-methane reforming and the Fischer-Tropsch process is such that the H2 requirement is closer to 50% more than the mass of H contained in hydrocarbon product.

      SMR: CH4 + H2O -> 3 H2 + CO
      FT: (2n + 1) H2 + n CO -> CnH2n+2 + n H2O

      Still, my estimate of the cost to produce fuel remains about double that of Bailey’s “very, very rough calculation”. Maybe more than double since, as one commenter observed above, the price of H2 probably has various subsidies embedded in it.

  26. Best to have these plants out in the desert where there’s no human habitation, lots of wind and lots of water. OK, maybe no water. Other than that …..

  27. That’s cute. We’re supposed to believe people that still believe in the religion of global warming.
    I would like for them to first tell me the ideal CO2 and temperature levels for the planet and whether those levels are in equilibrium given a hundred year forecast of sunshine, volcano, and human activity.

  28. If they were serious about atmospheric CO2 levels, they would cut and bury trees in order to sequester the carbon and then plant new trees to convert atmospheric CO2 to wood.
    The buried trees would slowly produce methane, which could be burned for energy.

  29. ” it does indicate how human ingenuity and continued economic growth will likely make most of the problems associated with climate change manageable.”

    I’m not convinced that our leaders ‘managing climate change’ would be a good thing, however ingenious they are.

  30. Although I am an environmentalist “whacko”, I am all for market-based solutions to the carbon question. Figure out how much it costs to de-carbon fossil fuels, and add a tax in that amount.

  31. Junk science. Do you know how much air you would have to process to even create the energy of a single charcoal brickette? How fuck-balls, why are you giving these people any screen-time?

    1. “Parts per billion? What does that even mean?!”

  32. Nature already does this for free.

  33. I want a gasoline@home device. Don’t care if it takes a few hours to drip fill my tank.

    1. And a thousand dollars worth of electricity?

  34. Do you want to see exactly how senseless this CO2 —–> gasoline idea really is?

    Consider: It is uneconomical to convert COAL into gasoline.

    (Do you remember Jimmy Carter’s “synfuels” pipe dream of the 1970’s? That was coal-to-crude oil.)

    For coal to crude oil to compete, crude prices today would need to be $200-300 per barrel.

    Does anyone believe that carbon from the air is cheaper than carbon from coal?

  35. How silly this all is… why don’t we just put the carbon back into our soils where it belongs?

  36. If they would just make all roads go downhill, then none of this would be necessary.

  37. Didn’t anybody at Reason pass Thermo in college?

    This is a ridiculous boondoggle, like looking at ashes and seeing trees.

    CO2 is at the bottom of the chemical energy well. Bringing it back up to where you can burn it again would require more energy than you can ever get out of burning it. That energy has to come from somewhere.

    Take that energy you’d squander converting CO2 back into hydrocarbons and use it to replace the carbon energy source. Don’t burn the carbon in the first place.

    Other comments about taking the CO2 out of smokestacks (before it runs off and hides in the atmosphere) are right on the money. Sorting CO2 (at ~400 ppm!) out of the atmosphere would take vastly more energy than capturing it at the source. But really that’s only relevant if the rest of the process makes sense, which it doesn’t.

    Everything about this plan is dumb.

  38. All the warmists are as certain that that CO2 causes global warming as doctors knew that eggs caused heart disease and fatty foods caused obesity.

  39. Which is to say that environmental engineering is probably more dangerous than the root cause that makes people want to ‘fix’ things

    Geo engineering is the future. there are many many natural events that profoundly altered atmospheric gas and particle ratios much more than our current carbon fuel problems. Carbon capture and sequestration or use is a very good science to pursue for our current issues since such types of atmospheric engineering will be necessary in future

  40. Why don’t we use the wind turbines to electrolyze water to produce hydrogen and then burn the hydrogen via fuel cell or directly? Of course that doesn’t involve carbon dioxide which is readily available in plain air at the ratio of four molecules CO2 per 10,000 air molecules.
    White House news release 6/25/2003: “President Bush’s $1.2 billion hydrogen fuel initiative aims to reverse America’s growing dependence on foreign oil by accelerating the commercialization of hydrogen-powered fuel cells to power cars, trucks, homes and businesses with no pollution or greenhouse gases.”
    “The Hydrogen Fuel Initiative will include $720 million in new funding over the next five years to develop the technologies and infrastructure to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles and electricity generation.”
    How’s that working out for us after fifteen years?

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