Fill ‘er up with a gallon of ‘water gasoline’
Written by David Shamah, The Times of Israel
Alternative fuels have failed to catch on because they require a major adjustment in the way society works. Here’s an alternative to that.
While everyone agrees that alternatives to fossil fuels are needed, currently available alternatives require such a major an adjustment in manufacturing and social infrastructure so as to render the whole project untenable.
Besides, said Professor Moti Herskowitz of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, even if the world could be convinced to replace internal combustion engines in cars and trucks with engines that run on electricity, methanol, or other gasoline replacements, there remains one major problem. “If you notice, no one ever discusses alternative fuels for jets. No one wants a problem in the air, which makes jet fuel irreplaceable right now,” Herskowitz said.
Considering the fact that over 10% of crude oil is used for jet fuel, it appears that refined oil is going to be around for a long time.
If you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em, says Herskowitz. With a revolutionary system for making gasoline out of hydrogen extracted from water, and from carbon dioxide, two of the most common substances on earth, Herskowitz believes that he and his team at Ben-Gurion (including Prof. Miron Landau, Dr. Roxana Vidruk, and others at BGU’s Blechner Center for Industrial Catalysis and Process Development) have come up with the one alternative fuel that can succeed on a wide scale.
Herskowitz’s fuel is the realization of generations of inventors as well as environmentalists — a clean-burning fuel that that can replace refined oil in existing engines, saving society the huge cost, not to mention hassle, of changing everything to accommodate new fuel technologies.
That no-pain changeover from fossil fuels to clean alternative energy is why the system he and his team have developed has a far better chance of being adopted by business and industry than do other alternative fuels, Herskowitz told The Times of Israel in an exclusive interview. “The fuel our method will produce will go right into the gas tank, as it exists now. The other solutions are very valid, but the issue will be applying them, and with our method that is not an issue.”
Professor Moti Herskowitz (Photo credit: Courtesy)
As an example, Herskowitz points to the experience of Better Place. “Their idea was to build a new infrastructure for fueling cars, but they were unable to get it off the ground, even after spending hundreds of millions. In the end, the company and the government realized that completing this infrastructure would just cost too much money.
”The failure of Better Place does not augur well for other alternative fuels that seek to replace fossil fuels, he added. But with the “green feed” system that he and his team have developed, said Herskowitz, we can have it all — a clean-burning fuel that doesn’t require “dirty” power to produce (as is the case with batteries for electric cars, which are produced in factories that burn fossil fuels), or the redirection of valuable food growing resources to the production of crops to be used for alcohol-based fuel (a process that has turned out to cause far more damage to the environment
than had been foreseen).
In Herskowitz’s system, gasoline, jet fuel, and other oil-based liquid fuels are produced by taking hydrogen and mixing it with carbon dioxide. This gas mixture is fed into a reactor packed with a nano-structured solid catalyst — also developed at BGU — to produce the “green feed,” an organic liquid and a gas that contain reactive hydrocarbons, said Herskowitz.The result is a substance similar to synthetic crude oil, which could be converted into gasoline using technology that dates back to before World War II.
The team has conducted numerous tests, and have found that the hydrogen/carbon dioxide gas produced by the system is as efficient as oil-based gasoline, if not more so — and it’s nonpolluting, as well. Herskowitz introduced his system last week at the Bloomberg Fuel Choices Summit in Tel Aviv last week.
“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,” he said at the event.
“Since there are no foreseen technological barriers, the new process should become a reality within five to ten years.”
Tags: alternative energy, Ben-Gurion University, David Shamah, Moti Herskowitz, synthetic fuel, Times of Israel