Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The New Contender in the Energy Market: Air.

Evironmentally, you really can't win. Statistically, I am kind of winning; my life is quite environmentally friendly - I am frugal with electricity, I walk most places and get the bus to all other places, I have a Friends of the Earth hoodie - but that it because I am a poor student and I live in expensive London and Tim Minchin was at the Friends of the Earth gig, so I don't really have much of a choice in these matters. For people who can afford choice, you're pretty much damned if you do and damned if you don't. Using technology is necessary, but bad. Driving a normal is bad, but driving an electric car makes you a pretentious prick. Also, electricity is bad. And electric cars are ugly as fuck.

But this could be about to change. The G-Wiz will still be hideous and you will still look like a douche if you even consider getting into one. But it won't be your only option.

Because of these dudes. These wonderful nerds - and I do love nerds - at Air Fuel Synthesis are making fuel out of air.

Out. Of. Air.

Earlier on in October 2012, they revealed the first successful demonstration of their techniques, showing how carbon, hydrogen and oxygen can be taken from carbon dioxide and water in the air to be converted first into methanol and then into petrol.

They didn't even have to go into any more detail to blow my mind. The idea has been around since the oil crisis of the 1970s, but it still feels a bit like science fiction to me. So they offer this helpful graphic to explain to nerd-groupies like me who have no real nerd credentials aside from enthusiam:

The problem with it at the moment is the energy efficiency of the process. Obviously, it would not be environmentally beneficial if more energy was put into it than is created by it, and this is still being smoothed out, but that makes it no less cool.

With funding, it will get there. Eventually. There are huge plans for the technology which could revolutionise the way that energy is created. The maths for its development on a much larger scale is already sorted out and, once it has some firmer backing from governments, it is hoped that it will be a contender against oil in the energy market.

Hopefully it won't make the same mistake as some of the other companies that have tried to save the world and will offer us some technology that isn't too ugly to touch.

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