In the future, you could be filling up with gasoline derived from natural gas rather than crude oil. Santa Barbara, California-based Carbon Sciences says it’s developed a process for turning methane and carbon dioxide into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum products.
Company CEO Byron Elton says what the U.S. faces “is not an energy crisis, but a fuel crisis.” He argues that his solution to turn our domestically abundant natural gas into transportation fuel is both a win for national security and the environment.
Elton says his process is more commercially viable than CNG, too, because it doesn’t require drastic changes to the infrastructure. And, he plans to prove it’s commercially viable early next year.
Elton envisions locating a fuel-producing operation with a facility that brings natural gas up from underground. Methane and carbon dioxide are both brought to the surface in that process. From there, equal parts of methane and CO2 are combined and placed in contact with a proprietary catalyst. They then form the hydrocarbon precursors to gasoline.
Elton says one benefit of turning natural gas into gasoline is that it’s easier to transport than natural gas. By turning it into a liquid, you avoid numerous rounds of compression and decompression that reduce the final energy output of the methane.
Elton hopes to have his first plant up and operating within five years.
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