Can This British Company Actually Make Gasoline Out Of Air And Electricity?

Illustration for article titled Can This British Company Actually Make Gasoline Out Of Air And Electricity?

Using what I can only describe as something that sounds like fucking magic or something, a British firm this week unveiled technology that they claim can synthesize gasoline just from air and electricity.


According to this hyperbole-laden report in the U.K.'s Telegraph, the company Air Fuel Synthesis has technology which could be a "game changer" and a "savior" for the world's energy crisis. It may be too early to say all that, but here's how it works, as reported by the newspaper:

The "petrol from air" technology involves taking sodium hydroxide and mixing it with carbon dioxide before "electrolysing" the sodium carbonate that it produces to form pure carbon dioxide. Hydrogen is then produced by electrolysing water vapour captured with a dehumidifier.

The company, Air Fuel Synthesis, then uses the carbon dioxide and hydrogen to produce methanol which in turn is passed through a gasoline fuel reactor, creating petrol.

Those at Air Fuel Synthesis say this is more than just a theory. They claim they have synthesized five liters (about 1.3 gallons to us 'Muricans) in about three months' time. British scientists quoted in the Telegraph even said the technology is "too good to be true but it is true."

Obviously, if this works, these scientists will have created one of the world's most valuable commodities out of nearly nothing, making them almost like modern-day alchemists.

However, many of the science-minded commenters in that article seem extremely skeptical that this is even possible. Much of Air Fuel Synthesis' process is over my head in a technical sense (if it wasn't, I wouldn't be working as a reporter, that's for damn sure) but I will say that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

I'll turn the mic over to you, chemists and other science-y Jalops: Does this sound legit to you?


And everyone else: do you think we'll ever actually see this technology get put to use? Sound off in the comments.

Photos credit Shutterstock



I saw this story on BBC and it looked doable, but how much power do you have to expend per gallon of gas? My guess is it's still cheaper to pump it out the ground and refine it.

They do claim though that this system would remove CO2 from the atmosphere in the process.

If it works, and is cost effective, it could end oil dependance and make the Middle East a lot less important on the world stage. That could be a good thing.