If remotely true this article about a technique to convert air into gasoline is wild but great. As the BBC video embedded on the link above shows the folks at Air Fuel Synthesis have not, repeat not, solved the core issue which is how much energy is needed to create the fuel. But the hope is that

The fuel is not only viable; … it will be suitable for high-performance vehicles. But the biggest benefit of the fuel is its sustainability. Since burning the fuel only releases the same carbon dioxide that was already in the air to begin with, it is carbon neutral. (That is, so long as the electricity required to make the necessary chemical conversions is sourced from renewable energy like wind or solar.)

Another potential benefit of the fuel is that it will be price-predictable. Gas prices won’t fluctuate because the fuel source will be stable.

Science fiction? Perhaps. But there is a market here and if someone breaks through some rather cool outcomes could be in our future. For patent folks, I saw some idea that an oil company would buy up patents just to get this one off the market. I have heard similar claims in energy before. I wonder whether anyone has an example of that in energy? And has anyone argued that a break through for energy would have to be shared a la drug needs?

2 Thoughts to “Innovation, Magic: Gasoline Out of Thin Air?”

  1. The article is wrong about it needing to produce more energy than it consumes. It just needs to be good enough; think solar panels in the Middle of Nowhere, AZ, creating liquid that can be shipped and stored. Efficiency matters, but it definitely doesn’t have to be net positive to be useful.

  2. Deven

    James, Thanks. I cross-post at Concurring Opinions. Someone there made the same point. As he put it, don’t think it will be positive for energy, but the uses from solar and other sources could be great.

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