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On-board carbon capture offers emission-free cars

06/08/2008

US researchers have developed an innovative strategy to capture, store and eventually recycle carbon from vehicles to prevent CO2 from finding its way into the atmosphere.

US researchers have developed an innovative strategy to capture, store and eventually recycle carbon from vehicles to prevent CO2 from finding its way into the atmosphere.

Nearly two-thirds of global carbon emissions are created by small polluters including cars, other vehicles and distributed industrial power generation applications such as diesel power generators. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta sought to create a sustainable transportation system that uses a liquid fuel and traps the carbon emission in the vehicle for later processing. The research was funded by NASA, the US Department of Defense NDSEG Fellowship Programme and Georgia Tech’s Creating Energy Options (CEO) Programme.

“Currently, we have an unsustainable carbon-based economy with several severe limitations, including a limited supply of fossil fuels, high cost and carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions,” says Andrei Fedorov, associate professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. “We wanted to create a practical and sustainable energy strategy for cars that could solve each of those limitations, eventually using renewable energy sources and in an environmentally conscious way.”

The research team outlined an economically feasible strategy for processing fossil or synthetic, carbon-containing liquid fuels that allows for the capture and recycling of carbon at the point of emission. In the long term, this strategy would enable the development of a sustainable transportation system with no carbon emission.

A near-future strategy involves capturing carbon emissions from conventional liquid hydrocarbon-fuelled vehicles with an on-board fuel processor designed to separate the hydrogen in the fuel from the carbon. Hydrogen is used to power the vehicle because in pure form it produces no carbon emissions, while the carbon is stored on board the vehicle in a liquid form until disposed of at a fuel station. It is then transported to a centralised site to be stored in a permanent location. In the long-term, the CO2 will be recycled forming a closed-loop system, involving synthesis of high energy density liquid fuel suitable for the transportation sector.

More information: http://www.gatech.edu/newsroom/release.html?id=1707

New UK centre focuses on carbon capture

A research centre dedicated to reducing the planet's carbon footprint was launched at The University of Nottingham in early 2008, funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The Centre for Innovation in Carbon Capture and Storage (CICCS) is exploring cutting edge technology that 'captures' polluting CO2 and stores it permanently, preventing its damaging release into the atmosphere. Work is led by the University's School of Chemical and Environmental Engineering but is cross-disciplinary, bringing together engineers, mathematicians, bioscientists, geographers and geologists. Research projects conducted in the centre will include the storage and conversion of CO2 into materials and fuels.

More information: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/carbonmanagement/