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UK firm successfully generates methanol from atmospheric CO2

October 22, 2012

The London Telegraph reported on Friday that a demonstration facility by the British firm Air Fuel Synthesis had managed to generate “about 5 litres” of methanol over a period of three months.  True, this is a very tiny amount, but the venture is privately funded on a relatively small budget.  Planners hope within two years to have a larger facility that can generate one ton per day, and a full fledged refinery-sized plant within 15 years.

The Telegraph somewhat breathlessly reported this achievement as “game changing.”  Not quite.  Atmospheric CO2 capture is a late stage development – in the interim, the ability to capture waste CO2 from power and industrial plants has a far brighter future.  As noted this summer, there is already a large commercial plant in Iceland that is doing just that.  The idea of a methanol based energy economy has been promoted in science and engineering circles by Nobel prize winning chemist George Olah, and it dovetails with Bob Zubrin’s efforts in the policy arena.

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