Nanotechnology and the capture carbon dioxide offer the world an endless supply of fuels and chemicals that would eliminate the carbon footprint of human activity.
By capturing and chemically recycling CO2 emissions, a neutral or in some case a negative carbon footprint is achieved. This is feasible through the use of nanomaterials which enable the capture and concentration of industrial and natural CO2 sources and their conversion into methanol which can then be converted into other chemicals and plastic products now derived from petroleum and natural gas sources.
Recent research centered on the conversion carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gases, into useful fuels and products, shows many chemicals and fuels can be obtained.
The figure shows the chemicals and products that are derived from methanol, many of which are currently derived from petroleum sources.
Image credit: CRI International
The carbon dioxide from a geothermal energy source or industrial sources can be isolated by sorption on suitable absorbent material. The absorbent material is a polyamino containing polymer deposited on a nano-structured high surface area support. The polyamino containing polymer is a polyethyleneimine and the support is nano-structured surface can be fused silica or alumina.
The hydrogen is generated by electrolysis or catalytic or thermal cleavage. The methanol is produced exclusively from the isolated carbon dioxide and hydrogen generated from the water or steam from the geothermal source also utilizes the needed energy generated by the same geothermal energy source.
The method reduces the carbon dioxide with hydrogen under conditions sufficient to form methanol. The methanol can be further processed to produce dimethyl ether. The dimethyl ether can be reacted in the presence of a bifunctional acidic-basic or zeolytic catalyst to form ethylene or propylene. The ethylene or propylene can be again be reacted to produce synthetic hydrocarbons, derived chemicals, polymers and other products derived from them.
By first capturing carbon dioxide from the environment, or at least by preventing further amounts from being discharged, and then by converting the captured carbon dioxide to a carbon based fuel or feedstock, future generations can continue to utilize such fuels and feedstocks as well as the products made from such chemicals, without causing further harm to the environment. Thus, future sources of these fuels and products can be provided without increasing the emission of carbon dioxide or its resulting carbon footprint. The products can be used in an environmentally neutral manner.
In particular, the CO2 that is captured and recovered can be used to produce suitable and renewable fuels such as methanol or dimethyl ether as well their derived products and materials
The United States government has recognized this crisis; the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was established in the 1970s to maintain an emergency oil supply, and the Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the Secretary of Energy to fill the SPR to its 1 billion barrel capacity. Unfortunately, there have been several challenges to meeting this directive, including emergency situations like Hurricane Katrina, the on-going turbulence in the middle-east, and the overall oil shortage. Furthermore, storage of oil, by its nature, poses several safety issues, for example, its extreme flammability.
Stockpiling of methanol offers several advantages over stockpiling oil. First, methanol is far less flammable than oil and other hydrocarbons, having a boiling point of 64.6.degree. C. (54.degree. F.) at atmospheric pressure. Gasoline, in contrast, will ignite at temperatures below freezing. Also, methanol is naturally present and found essentially non-toxic in plant and animal studies. For humans, methanol is safe at low concentrations. As a result of methanol's ready availability and relative safety, the storage thereof is far less expensive than oil and other fuels. Due to its physical properties, methanol is also easy to transport.
Dimethyl ether can also be conveniently stored and handled in the same manner as liquefied petroleum gas. Dimethyl ether is a gas at room temperature, so that it is pressurized to a liquid to facilitate handling. It generally should be stored in pressurized tanks or similar vessels.
Image credit: University of Bath
20100022671 Producing Methanol And Its Products Exclusively From Geothermal Sources And Their Energy