Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have developed an innovative process to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen into a renewable alternative for crude oil, which could transform fuels used in gas and diesel-powered vehicles and jets.
The "green feed" crude oil can be refined into renewable liquid fuels using established technologies and can be transported using existing infrastructure to gas stations. The highly efficient advance is made possible in part using nanomaterials that significantly reduce the amount of energy required in the catalytic process to make the crude oil.
"We can now use zero cost resources, carbon dioxide, water, energy from the sun, and combine them to get real fuels," said BGU's Prof. Moti Hershkowitz, presenting the new renewable fuel process at the Bloomberg Fuel Choices Summit in Tel Aviv on November 13. Carbon dioxide and hydrogen are two of the most common elements available on earth.
"Ethanol (alcohol), biodiesel and/or blends of these fuels with conventional fuels are far from ideal," Hershkowitz explains. "There is a pressing need for a game-changing approach to produce alternative, drop-in, liquid transportation fuels by sustainable, technologically viable and environmentally acceptable emissions processes from abundant, low-cost, renewable materials."
"BGU has filed the patents and we are ready to demonstrate and commercialize it," Hershkowitz says. "Since there are no foreseen technological barriers, the new process could become a reality within five to10 years," he adds.
The BGU crude oil process produces hydrogen from water, which is mixed with carbon dioxide captured from external sources and synthetic gas (syngas). This green feed mixture is placed into a reactor that contains a nano-structured solid catalyst, also developed at BGU, to produce an organic liquid and gas.
Prof. Moti Herskowitz is the Israel Cohen Chair in Chemical Engineering and the vice president and dean of research and development at BGU. He led the team that also includes Prof. Miron Landau, Dr. Roxana Vidruk and others at BGU's Blechner Center for Industrial Catalysis and Process Development.
The Blechner Center, founded in 1995, has the infrastructure and expertise required to deal with a wide variety of challenging topics related to basic and applied aspects of catalysis and catalytic processes. This was accomplished with major funding from various sources that include science foundations, industrial partners and individual donors such as the lateNorbert Blechner. Researchers at the Blechner Center have also developed a novel process for converting vegetable and algae oils to advanced green diesel and jet fuels, as well as a novel process for producing zero-sulfur diesel.
"Ben-Gurion University's Blechner Center has been at the forefront of alternative fuel research and development, working with major American oil and automotive companies for more than 20 years," says Doron Krakow, executive vice president, American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. "We applaud these new developments and BGU's focus on giving the world new technologies for more efficient, renewable fuel alternatives."
This project is partially supported by I-SAEF (Israel Strategic Alternative Energy Foundation).