Scientists Develop Cheap Way to Make Carbon Dioxide into Gasoline

There are many reasons why news about the threat of climate change is so controversial and depressing.

Putting aside the politics of it all, one thing that makes folks so willing to believe that it’s no big deal is, frankly, how hopeless it all sounds. Climate scientists say that we may actually already be beyond the point of no return. Carbon dioxide, the by product of fossil fuel burning that is warming the planet, is the greatest threat. But, thanks to the efforts of some scientists at Carbon Engineering may have just discovered something that could save us all.

A new paper in the scientific journal Joule details how the Canadian company, partly owned by Bill Gates, has pioneered a way to turn carbon dioxide into fuel. This incredible development doesn’t just change the carbon dioxide into gasoline but can also turn the greenhouse gas into diesel or even jet fuel. To make matters even better, the process removes a metric ton of carbon dioxide from the air for less than one hundred dollars.

Ugh, Do We Really Have to Talk About Climate Change?

carbon dioxide, most expensive cities in the world, most expensive cities, expensive cities, most expensive cities to live in, expensive cities to live in

Credit: Flickr, Franck Michel

Sadly, yes, we do. However, no one wants to, thanks to the interests of energy lobbyists, anti-science politicians, and a media landscape driven by making every issue into a red team versus the blue team spectacle. While some of the general populace still doubts it’s even happening, the scientific community is certain that it is. There is still debate amongst climate scientists, of course, but it’s about how badly our world will be affected by it. There is a lot of hyperbole surrounding this issue, so let’s just look at the bare bones facts.

  • Fact One: Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. That means that when it gets in our atmosphere at high levels, it traps the heat from the sun under the thin veil of gases that surrounds this planet. 
  • Fact Two: Burning fuel, from coal to gasoline to natural gas, produces large amounts of carbon dioxide. As more and more humans drive cars, heat their homes, and generate power on astronomical scales, more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. 
  • Fact Three: The polar ice caps, areas where there is permafrost, and Antarctica are all thawing, causing sea levels to rise.

How this will affect us in the decades and centuries to come is not certain, but even the best case scenarios are not exactly great. Even if every since scientist warning about climate change is wrong (they’re not), why take the risk? Earth is the only planet we’ve got.

Yes, Earth is Great, but So Are Cars, Cellphones, and Cheap Steak.

The other problem about climate change is that for us to do anything that will make a real difference would mean drastically changing our society. We’d have to stop driving, stop flying, stop taking advantage of the drastic improvements technology makes in our lives. For people in the developing world, they are just getting access to these technologies. Even things like electric cars, which reduce emissions, still require fossil fuels to power up. No one wants to give up their gadgets, nor should we. We live in an age of constant miracles. And it just so happens that technology might save us.

carbon dioxide, best mobile hotspots for travelers, hotspot devices, mobile hotspot devices, international wifi hotspot, travel wifi hotspot, best hotspot, international wifi, international hotspot, international pocket wifi, travel wifi hotspot, best international wifi hotspot, international mobile hotspot, international wifi hotspot rental, international mobile hotspot, international wifi hotspot rental, international hotspot device, global wifi hotspot, travel hotspot, best mobile wifi hotspot for international travel, best portable wifi, portable wifi international, best mifi for international travel, best mobile hotspot for international travel, best mobile wifi for travel, international mifi, travel internet, mifi for international travel, portable wifi for travel, international 4g hotspot, roaming wifi hotspot, international wireless internet, best international portable wifi, best portable wifi for international travel, international mifi rental, moile hotspot device international, worldwide wifi, international wifi card, international wifi plan, wifi hotspot devices unlimited data, best travel mifi, best portable wifi for travel, best wifi device for traveling, best hotspot for international travel, mifi wifi hotspot international, international roaming hotspot, travelers wifi review, tep wireless alternative, global mifi device, tep wireless vs skyroam, mobile hotspot for international travel, hotspot international, international portable wifi hotspot, international 3g hotspot, best mobile hotspot, tep wireless 4g, best portable wifi hotspot for international travel, best travel hotspot, international mobile hotspot device, tep wireless vs xcom, global wifi devie, best mobile wifi, hotspot intrnational travel service, best hotspot plans, mobile hostpot worldwide, global mobile wifi hotspot, international wifi device, travel wifi devie, romaing man wifi reviews, international travel wifi hotspot, global internet hotspot, portable wifi device for travel, wifi for international travel, international mobile hotspot rental, international portable wifi hostpot rental, best wifi hotspot, wifi global, wireless internet service for traveling, portable wifi hotspot for travel, international wireless hotspot, global wifi hotspot device, roaming wifi device, teppyp wifi, global ite hotspot, best hotspot, hotspot international travel, wifi hotspot travel router, what is the best pocket wifi, international wifi hotspot, portable wifi while traveling, best pocket wifi usa, best portable wifi for international travel, portable wifi hotspot for travel, travelers wifi review, best portable wifi deals, best international portable wifi, portable wifi reviews, best international wifi hotspot, international travel wifi hotspot, portable wifi device for travel, pocket wifi usa, best portable wifi hotspot for international travel, best travel hotspot, best wifi device for traveling, wifi portable, wifi hub, best hotspot, mobile hotspot, wireless hotspot, unlocked hotspot, unlocked mobile hotspot, mifi device, unlocked wifi hotspot, unlocked mifi, unlocked mire uk, unlocked mifi hotspot, best huawei mifi devie, unlocked 4g lte hotspot, best mifi device canada, buy unlocked mifi device, unlocked mifi canada, international mifi, best mifi, best mifi device, unlocked mifi device europe, sim free mifi device, buy unlocked mifi, mifi europe, unlocked wireless hotspot, unlocked mobile hotspot devies, best mifi device 2017, unlocked mifi device, unlocked mifi 4g, best mifi dongle, global mifi, best mifi plans, best international wifi hotspot, best mobile wifi hotspot for international travel, top mifi, best mobile wifi hotspot for international travel, top mifi, best mobile mifi device, hotspot sim card, global mifi device, mobile mifi router, novatel mifi unlocked , buy mifi roter, unlocked lte hotspot, best mifi for international travel, hotspot router with sim, how to unlock hotspot device, best 4g mifi device, international mifi device, mifi reviews 2017, international hotspot device, best hauwei mifi, pocket wifi modern unlocked, mifi box, what is the best mobile wifi device, mifi 2 unlocked global hotspot, mobile hotspot sim card, best mobile wifi router uk, mifi worldwide, unlocked hotspot device, top 10 mifi devices, wifi hotspot device reviews, huawei 4g mifi device, compare mifi devices, gsm hotspot device, best mobile wifi for travel, mifi for international travel, unlock modern 4g, unlocked wifi router, what's the best mobile wifi device, mifi where to buy, wifi device with sim card, international 4g hotspot, best 4g mifi in india, mifi reviews uk, best portable wifi for travel, sapphire internet puck, wifi hub with sim card, best portable wifi hotspot in india, top 10 pocket wifi, portable 4g otspot device, mifi wifi hotspot international, 3g mifi device, wifi hotspot modern unlocked, skyroam, wifi on the go, skyroam hotspot, unlimited portable wifi, global hotspot, international mobile hotspot, globral wifi hotspot, unlimited wifi hotspot, global wifi, wifi anywhere you go, free wifi anywhere, wifi anywhere, wifi wherever you go, personal wifi, how to get wifi anywhere, wifi anywhere device, travel wifi device, worldwide wifi, international wifi hotspot rental, skyroam mobile hotspot, personal wifi hotspot, portable wifi device, wifi everywhere, skyroam internet, skyroam wifi, skyroam review, global wifi roaming, world wide wifi network, unlimited wifi dongle pay as you go, skyroam login, wifi travel, get wifi anywhere, is there a device to get wifi anywhere, mifi wifi hotspot international, sky unlimited wifi, a skyroam com, portable wifi box, wireless internet service for traveling, international monile hotspot device, pay as you go wifi hotspot, wifi roaming, 3gmate, wifi puck, roam com, wifi dongle to use abraod, fast wifi hotspot, wifi for laptop on the go, wifi egg usa, wifi hotspot device no contract, pocket wifi usa, satellite wifi hotspot, travel wifi box, sky wifi, skyroam coverage map, skyroam uk, wifi abroad dongle, wifi hotspot europe, wifi box on the go, unlimited wireless intenet on the go, personal wifi box, wifi logo, how to get portable wifi, sky hotspot map, mifi international use, skyroam hotspot device, cheap portable wifi, mifi europe roaming, wifi overseas, wireless internet anywhere in the world, sky wifi app, global mobile wifi, skyrome, have internet anywhere, wifi hotspot box, pocket wifi abroad, carry wifi with you, internet puck, roaming internet for laptop, satellite internet on the go, travel wifi phillippines, wifi where you go app, skyroam top up, wifi you can take anywhere, roam travel, fastest hotspot connection, strong hotspot, lax wifi hotspot rental, gadget wifi, hotspot site, asia pocket wifi, pay as you go wifi router, hotspot deal with friends, free wifi everywhere, sky mobile wifi, globe wifi hotspot, best hotspot plans, internet on the go in india, hotspot go solo, pocket wifi best mobile hotspots for travelers, san francisco, hotspot box

Credit: PxHere

One need only look at California to see a hint of what a future in which we are forced to drastically conserve would look like. Because of historic drought (arguably an effect of climate change), Californians have to ration the water they use every day. Even though the government poses steep fines for overuse, people still just don’t care. They love the planet and want to help, but not at the cost of filling their pools or taking that occasional hour long shower. It is difficult to get people to sacrifice like we’d need to in order to make a difference. This recent breakthrough, however, changes the game.

What’s So Great About Turning Carbon Dioxide into Fuel?

First of all, it’s just cool. Science is amazing, and the ability to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere has existed for some time. There were just two problems. The first was that it just trapped the gas underground. Like hiding dirty laundry under your bed, it would work for a while, but it’s not really gone. The second problem is that doing so cost so much money it would be nigh-impossible to do on a large scale. This is why environmental advocates wanted a so-called “Carbon Tax,” which would incentivize companies to do this themselves or finance the government’s efforts.

So, while turning carbon dioxide into combustible fuel is like alchemical magic, it’s all just carbon. That’s what’s in fossil fuels that makes them work, so yanking it from the gaseous form makes sense. Yet, this process was so costly that it seemed impossible to do on a large scale. Now, Carbon Engineering is able to take some limestone, hydrogen, and air and turn a metric ton of carbon dioxide into fuel for less than a hundred bucks. If this method is allowed to proliferate, the new energy frontier may not be wells in the ground or under the ocean, but the sky above our heads.

Okay, but Will This Work to Change the Energy Industry?

There is no question that the most vociferous opponents to climate change activists are companies and people whose livelihoods depend on fossil fuels. Again, putting aside moral grandstanding about the good of our species and our planet, this opposition makes sense. Everyone from veteran coal miners to billionaire executives could lose everything if we made a society-wide switch away from fossil fuels. Families separated by thousands of miles would have a more difficult time seeing each other. Even those who care deeply about the environment have a tough time giving up their cars and their smartphones.

carbond dioxide

Credit: Pixabay

Yet, with this direct air capture technology, any smart energy company should immediately start their pivot towards implementing it. Because for as cheaply as they can drill, mine, and refine oil, natural gas, and coal, the very air around is much, well, “free-er.” Think about it, despite the man-hours and equipment costs for mining (to say nothing of the effect it has on the environment) you still have to pay for land. Mines and wells eventually dry up, and then it’s on to the next thing. With direct air capture, an industrial sized site can “mine” the air for carbon dioxide forever.

Okay, I’m Sold. When Will This Technology Be Put into Use?

As excited as we all should be about this breakthrough, we’re not out of the proverbial (dying) woods yet. Carbon Engineering is currently working on an industrial scale version of this technology. However, it won’t be ready until 2021. From there, so long as it really works as they believe it will, it will take a lot of those industrial scale facilities to make a dent in our carbon dioxide saturated atmosphere. However, this breakthrough offers a glimmer of real hope for our technological futures. 

As this technology is further developed—and maybe even cheaper, more efficient methods are discovered—the benefits will eventually be felt. Along with reducing the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, people will be able to get their fuel or power more cheaply than before. Add to this the advancements in energy efficiency in recent years and in the decades to come, and suddenly our climate future is brighter. Asking people to give up their cars and tech toys is a hard ask, even to save the world. This helps skirt that problem.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, feelings, and reactions in the comments. Also remember to share this article online to keep the conversation going. 

You Might Also Like

Previous Story
Next Story

Leave a Reply