The Race for Alt Fuel
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|Yivsam Azgad||June 8th 2012|
An Israeli-Australian venture will use solar technology developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the burning of brown coal. The venture was recently launched in Israel by NewCO2Fuels Ltd., a subsidiary of the Australian company Greenearth Energy Ltd., which has acquired an exclusive worldwide license for the solar technology from Yeda, the Weizmann Institute’s technology transfer arm.
The Weizmann technology makes use of concentrated solar energy to dissociate CO2 to carbon monoxide (CO) and oxygen (O2). This method, developed at the Institute by Prof. Jacob Karni of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research, also makes it possible to dissociate water (H2O) to hydrogen (H2) and O2 at the same time it dismantles the CO2.
CO, or its mixture with hydrogen, called Syngas, can then be used as gaseous fuel, for example, in power plants, or converted to liquid fuel such as methanol, which can be stored, transported, or used to power motor vehicles.
The method has proved successful in laboratory trials. NewCO2Fuels Ltd. is now building a solar reactor for the conversion of CO2 on an industrial scale. Part of the development is being performed in collaboration with the Canadian Institute for the Energies and Applied Research at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Greenearth Energy Ltd. expects the new Israeli-Australian venture to help harness the vast brown coal resources in the State of Victoria in southeastern Australia. Use of this type of coal has, until now, been limited by its high CO2 emission content. The possibility of converting CO2 to fuel in a clean and efficient manner will turn brown coal into a source of environmentally friendly fuel.
Yivsam Azgad writes for the Weizmann Institute of Science, from where this article is adapted.