A new Israeli solar technology is able to transform greenhouse gas emissions
from the dirtiest of pollutants into a useable fuel for
Israeli startup NewCO2Fuels Ltd., in partnership with
Australian firm Greenearth Energy Ltd., has acquired the license for a
technology developed by Prof. Jacob Karni, head of the Weizmann Institute of
Science’s Energy Center in the department of environmental sciences and energy
research, as well as supervisor for the institute’s solar program.
innovation uses concentrated solar energy to dissociate carbon dioxide into
carbon monoxide and oxygen, as well as water into hydrogen and oxygen, allowing
for the synthesis of the carbon monoxide and hydrogen into a gaseous hydrocarbon
mixture called Syngas.
The Syngas, in turn, can be converted into
methanol for vehicular use.
Karni’s research, which was conducted in
partnership with Dr. Avner Rothschild from the Technion, received a $200,000
grant from the Silicon Valley-based organization Israel Strategic Alternative
Energy Foundation in 2010.
Logistically, the solar heat generation occurs
on parabolic dishes, which reflect the light captured to a reactor, a focal
point of the parabola that allows for extremely high temperature generation,
explained David Banitt, the CEO and major shareholder of NewCO2 Fuels. At the
reactor site, the carbon dioxide enters and splits due to the heat, with carbon
monoxide exiting through one pipe and oxygen through a second, Banitt told The
Jerusalem Post. The same process applies to water, for hydrogen and
“The process becomes much more effective if it’s performed at
much higher temperatures,” he said.
The hydrogen and carbon monoxide can
then come together to form Syngas, which in turn can be converted into methanol
Methanol is already in use for vehicle propulsion in several
countries around the world, and a Dor Chemicals and Ten Gasoline partnership is
currently performing an experiment in Israel with a blend of methanol and
“We would like to produce methanol that would be cost
competitive to gasoline,” Banitt said.
While the solar reactor technology
can be applied to any type of emissions that include carbon dioxide –
essentially, all fossil fuels – brown coal, which has an extremely high presence
in Victoria, Australia, emits enormous amounts of carbon dioxide. Brown coal
features about six to eight time more carbon dioxide than, for example, natural
gas, and therefore, Australia has limited its use.
Having acquired the
technology license, NewCO2Fuels intends to begin a pilot project soon,
presumably in Israel, and will likely launch its first commercial site in
Australia, as its partner is an Australian firm. However, the company is also
open to markets in the United States and China, according to Banitt.
possibility of converting carbon dioxide to fuel in a clean and efficient manner
will turn brown coal into a source of environmentally friendly fuel,” the
Weizmann Institute said.