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Reimagining liquid transportation fuels : sunshine to petrol.

Description: Two of the most daunting problems facing humankind in the twenty-first century are energy security and climate change. This report summarizes work accomplished towards addressing these problems through the execution of a Grand Challenge LDRD project (FY09-11). The vision of Sunshine to Petrol is captured in one deceptively simple chemical equation: Solar Energy + xCO{sub 2} + (x+1)H{sub 2}O {yields} C{sub x}H{sub 2x+2}(liquid fuel) + (1.5x+.5)O{sub 2} Practical implementation of this equation may seem far-fetched, since it effectively describes the use of solar energy to reverse combustion. However, it is also representative of the photosynthetic processes responsible for much of life on earth and, as such, summarizes the biomass approach to fuels production. It is our contention that an alternative approach, one that is not limited by efficiency of photosynthesis and more directly leads to a liquid fuel, is desirable. The development of a process that efficiently, cost effectively, and sustainably reenergizes thermodynamically spent feedstocks to create reactive fuel intermediates would be an unparalleled achievement and is the key challenge that must be surmounted to solve the intertwined problems of accelerating energy demand and climate change. We proposed that the direct thermochemical conversion of CO{sub 2} and H{sub 2}O to CO and H{sub 2}, which are the universal building blocks for synthetic fuels, serve as the basis for this revolutionary process. To realize this concept, we addressed complex chemical, materials science, and engineering problems associated with thermochemical heat engines and the crucial metal-oxide working-materials deployed therein. By project's end, we had demonstrated solar-driven conversion of CO{sub 2} to CO, a key energetic synthetic fuel intermediate, at 1.7% efficiency.
Date: January 1, 2012
Creator: Johnson, Terry Alan (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Hogan, Roy E., Jr.; McDaniel, Anthony H. (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Siegel, Nathan Phillip; Dedrick, Daniel E. (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Stechel, Ellen Beth et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department