Ben Gurion University researchers unveil fuel made from water, carbon dioxide

It could take 5 to 10 years to commercialize the patent-pending technology, researcher says at Tel Aviv conference.

By
November 13, 2013 19:04
1 minute read.
BGU researcher Moti Herskowitz.

BGU researcher Moti Herskowitz 370. (photo credit: Niv Elis)

 
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Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on Wednesday unveiled research on how to create fuel using carbon dioxide and water.

“The technology is based on novel specially tailored catalysts and catalytic processes,” said Moti Herskowitz, one of the researchers behind the new process. “Well-established, commercially available technology can be directly applied to the process developed at BGU. It is envisaged that the short-term implementation of the process will combine synthetic gas produced from various renewable and alternative sources with carbon dioxide and hydrogen.”

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While it could take five to 10 years to commercialize the patent-pending technology, the researchers hope to see the demonstration plans within two years, Herskowitz said at the Bloomberg Fuel Choices Summit in Tel Aviv.

“Why not use zero-cost resources,” he said. “We could use carbon dioxide, water and energy from the sun and combining them together get real fuels. We’re ready to take off.

We have the technology, the technology is proven, we’ve filed patents for it.”

A recurring theme among conference participants was the importance of opening existing infrastructure to competition from alternative fuels, such as ethanol and methanol, and then letting the market decide. Many new engines are already enabled with “flex fuel” technology, but old cars can be cheaply retrofitted. Yet, some of the problem is political.

“The oil industry has drawn a line in the sand that says 10 percent [ethanol blended with gasoline] – that’s your share,” Doug Berven, POET’s vice president of corporate affairs, said on a panel moderated by Jerusalem Post Editor- in-Chief Steve Linde.

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“You’re up against the most powerful political force on the planet,” he said.

The regulations in place mean that the US has a ready supply of cheap, efficient and cleaner ethanol that Israel could import, Berven said.

Daniel Recht, of South Korea’s OCI Sustainability Center, said Israel’s natural-gas boom was not an indefinite fix for its energy problems.

“Unfortunately, my advice to Israel is that natural gas is only a temporary solution,” he said. Ultimately, the world would need to find a way to transfer sustainable energies such as solar or wind to transportation, he said.

“Cars without tailpipe emissions may still have a lot of emissions in their life cycle,” Recht said. “The way to fix that is to fix the grid.”

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