Well, Isn’t This Special?

The British newspaper The Sun ran this interesting article the other day.  It seems the Brits have found a way to make petrol—gasoline to us colonials—from thin air.

[Air Fuel Synthesis] from the north of England has developed “air capture” technology which creates synthetic petrol with only air and electricity.

The technology was presented to a London engineering conference this week.

It mixes sodium hydroxide with carbon dioxide before zapping the resulting sodium carbonate with electricity, to form pure carbon dioxide.

At the same time, hydrogen is produced by electrolysing water vapour captured with a dehumidifier.

The carbon dioxide and hydrogen are then used to produce methanol which in turn is passed through a gasoline fuel reactor, creating petrol.

Wait, what?

This process works on air, but it adds sodium hydroxide to the mix?  But that’s minor; it’s not at all unusual to identify a process with a primary source, while adding additional chemicals along the way.

The really confusing part, to me, is this.  This process takes CO2 as an input and then messes with it to get, as a goal, CO2 as an output?  And then, to get the hydrogen, the process captures water vapor from the air and electrolyzes that?  I confess, I don’t understand.

Aside from processing carbon dioxide to get carbon dioxide, unless things have changed a bit since I took high school chemistry, reacting sodium hydroxide (NaOH) with carbon dioxide (CO2) generally produces “the resulting sodium carbonate” (Na2CO3) and…wait for it…water.  No need to collect water vapor with a dehumidifier.  Unless they wanted more water than that reaction would produce.  But that reaction produces a lot of water.

I’m no engineer, but a “breakthrough” isn’t what I see here.

Do the Brits do April Fool’s in mid-October?

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