Like the ancient alchemists trying to achieve chrysopoeia; the Sandia Lab in Albuquerque New Mexico is building a device to pull liquid fuel right out of the air. The device, called the “Counter Rotating ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator, or CR5 for short is designed to convert Carbon Dioxide in the air to carbon Monoxide using solar power. The carbon monoxide is then use to make hydrogen or is used to make a synthetic liquid fuel like ethanol, gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel.
The device works by breaking the carbon/oxygen bond in CO2 to create carbon monoxide and oxygen. The end product is called “Liquid Solar Fuel”; a combination of the carbon monoxide and water.
Originally the project was intended to extract hydrogen from water to use as fuel. But then Sandia
alchemists researchers got the idea to break down CO2 using the same technology. A prototype is now near completion and the implications of this breakthrough are staggering.
Ellen B. Stechel, manager of the labs Fuels and Energy Transitions Department states
“Not only did we think it was possible, the team has developed a prototype that they fully anticipate will successfully break down carbon dioxide in a clever and viable two-step process.”
This invention, though probably a good 15 to 20 years away from being on the market, holds a real promise of being able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while preserving options to keep using fuels we know and love,” she says. “Recycling carbon dioxide into fuels provides an attractive alternative to burying it
The mystical machine will be able to take CO2 captured from a coal plant and turn it back into fuel. Then the liquid fuel would be transportable within our existing infrastructure. CO2 could be harvested from polluting sources and also be taken right out of the air effectively undoing some of the damage already done.
The prototype will be ready early 2010