All entries for Monday 14 July 2008

July 14, 2008

Interesting development in environmental motoring

Writing about web page http://www.theengineer.co.uk/Articles/306687/Exhaust+to+biofuel.htm

Ok, so I’m a month or so behind the curve on this one (I found out about it whilst reading a mate’s car mag), but the link is to a technology that anybody interested in motoring or climate change should take an interest in – vehicle based carbon capture.

From what I can glean (specifics on this at the moment are very hard to come by), the principle is for the fitment of a filtration system into an internal combustion engine exhaust. The filters can be removed and then the CO2 extracted by bubbling it through an algae generator, which can then be used to make biofuel. There are a number of significant questions unanswered about this:

  • To what extent does the increase in exhaust back-pressure affect engine performance – horsepower, fuel consumption etc
  • How intrusive will the system be in terms of space and weight.
    Each cartrige holds 8kg of CO2, which will give a range of about 50 miles before it needs changing on a standard car. Apparently two cannisters can be used together to double range. Longer journeys, or higher emission cars, would therefore either require frequent stops to change cartriges or a larger storage capacity. I would imagine this would add a fair amount of weight and take up a lot of space
  • The practicalities of growing biofuels from algae on a large scale. There would obviously need to be some energy input into the algal growth, probably from sunlight. In order to grow algae rapidly a large area for the generator would presumably be required
  • Development costs and time

If you read the linked article, you’ll quickly see that the above queries have yet to really be answered in the press releases so far, and I suspect the technology is a fair way off of being fitted to every car given how new this is on the scene. A good dose of scepticism is therefore heavily advised on at the moment, and I have my doubts given the above points. However, it’s an intriguing concept which I really think might have some merit and it’s definitely one to watch progress of.


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