Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Breakthrough CO2 - Based Gas to Liquid Fuels Process

Update: Commenter Jono points out that company R&D spending for Carbon Sciences is not impressively high. Some people have questioned the viability of the technology Carbon Sciences wants to use. Regardless of the viability of any particular company, the technologies of GTL, CTL, BTL, KTL (kerogens to liquids), bitumens to liquids, methane clathrates to liquids, etc etc. have high enough payoffs to assure that viable processes that place these products firmly in the competitive marketplace will be developed.
"Unlike other technologies, such as those for algae biofuels, that may require decades for commercial deployment, our plan for delivering a market-ready technology may be available as soon as early next year. Within a short period of time, we believe that the world can stop drilling for oil and start converting natural gas and greenhouse gases to gasoline.” _TGDaily
A new process from Carbon Sciences aims to convert CO2 plus natural gas into gasoline and other advanced hydrocarbon fuels and high value chemicals. Carbon Sciences is developing this technology as a set of highly scalable modular processes, which together will be capable of providing a wide array of hydrocarbon products.
Carbon Sciences' Gas to Liquids (GTL) fuel technology is based on a chemical catalyst that converts methane and carbon dioxide directly into gasoline. The gases can be sourced from natural gas fields or coal-fired power plants, landfill gas, municipal waste, and even algae.

The company says it could have the system ready as soon as next year.

"The ongoing tragic events involving BP’s unchecked flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico further underscores the urgent need to reduce and eliminate our addiction to petroleum, foreign and domestic," said Byron Elton, CEO of Carbon Sciences.

"Carbon Sciences’ breakthrough technology takes us closer to a world without petroleum by essentially transforming pollution into energy."

The latest announcement is the development of a standalone system that, says the company, can reduce overall systems and operating costs and produce a fuel that can be used in existing infrastructure, supply chain and vehicles. __TGDaily

Gas to liquids and coal to liquids are the two technologies which offer the most immediate prospects for large scale replacement of crude oil in transportation fuels. Eventually, other carbonaceous sources such as kerogens, biomass, and perhaps methane clathrates will provide relatively inexpensive substitutes for crude oil based fuels, as well. It is a matter of developing the proper methods of mining or harvesting the feedstock, and discovering the best catalysts and other processes for refining the product most efficiently and economically.

The scary bedtime story of Peak Oil Doom was never well plotted or thought out. There have always been too many potential substitutes for light sweet crude -- in very large and accessible quantities -- for mature and informed individuals and institutions to panic. The only prospect for severe hardship as a result of a shortage of energy, is the prospect of governmental incompetence when interfering in the energy industry, or deliberate energy starvation policies implemented by governments as a part of a larger, intentional scheme. Such energy starvation policies could be properly labeled "Political Peak Oil."

Political Peak Oil is a genuine possibility, given the sort of politicians which have been getting elected recently -- and the sort of regulators they have been appointing. But that is a different type of problem with a different sort of solution.



Blogger Jonathan K said...

Carbon Sciences spent a total of $32,204 on R&D last quarter. Since the inception of the company five years ago, they've spent <$600k. Over that same time period, they've spent over $3mm on SG&A and $1.2mm on stock based compensation.

This company is a ZERO and will never amount to anything. If you're relying on this dog to delay peak oil, prepare to be disappointed.

8:13 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

Interesting. You may well have a point there regarding Carbon Sciences.

Of course, they are not the only company or research group to want to convert gas or coal to liquid fuels.

Using CO2 in the process of GTL is completely unnecessary of course, but apparently Carbon Sciences thought that they could attract some carbon hysterics by inserting such a hook in their PR.

If this company does turn out to be a zero, it would not be the first or the last. Energy is a high stakes game these days.

It is not smart to rely upon just one company, group of companies, technology, or group of technologies in this dynamic politico-techological-economic environment.

9:46 AM  

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