USDOE Says CO2 Recycling is Path to US Energy Independence

A team of genuine United States patriots employed by the United States Department of Energy has spoken out about the genuine potentials for harvesting Carbon Dioxide, from whatever convenient source, and then using and consuming that Carbon Dioxide as the key and basic raw material in the industrial synthesis of any and all sorts of hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals, into anything, in effect, we now sell our children's futures out to continue buying from the OPEC cartel.

Genuine United States patriots everywhere, regardless of their political party affiliations or personal feelings about the relationship between the economy and the environment, should pay some attention to what these USDOE scientists have to say about Carbon Dioxide, and the potentials for it's productive use, especially since the United States Government, who most now see as opposed to any industry that might co-produce a little Carbon Dioxide, had the integrity to publish it.

As we've seen, for one example, in our report of:

USDOE Says CO2 is a 'Vast Natural Resource' | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 4,197,421 - Synthetic Carbonaceous Fuels and Feedstocks; 1980; Inventor: Meyer Steinberg, NY; Assignee: The United States of America; Abstract: This invention relates to the use of a three compartment electrolytic cell in the production of synthetic carbonaceous fuels and chemical feedstocks such as gasoline, methane and methanol by electrolyzing an aqueous sodium carbonate/bicarbonate solution, obtained from scrubbing atmospheric carbon dioxide with an aqueous sodium hydroxide solution, whereby the hydrogen generated at the cathode and the carbon dioxide liberated in the center compartment are combined thermocatalytically into methanol and gasoline blends. The oxygen generated at the anode is preferably vented into the atmosphere, and the regenerated sodium hydroxide produced at the cathode is reused for scrubbing the CO2 from the atmosphere. ... Government Interests: This invention was made under, or during, the course of, a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy. Claims: (A) process of producing synthetic fuels and chemical feedstocks such as gasoline, methane and methanol by converting a gaseous mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide to methanol and then gasoline by thermocatalytic means; (comprising) extracting atmospheric carbon dioxide with an aqueous sodium hydroxide solution to form a carbonate solution, electrolyzing said aqueous sodium carbonate/bicarbonate solution in a three compartment electrolytic cell to generate pure hydrogen at the cathode and pure carbon dioxide in the center compartment, and combining said pure hydrogen gas with said pure carbon dioxide gas thermocatalytically to form methanol and gasoline blends. ... This invention relates to a process for producing synthetic fuels and chemical feedstocks such as gasoline, methane and methanol from gaseous CO2 and H2 by extracting CO2 from the air with a NaOH solution; subjecting the resulting sodium carbonate solution to electrolysis in a three compartment electrolytic cell where hydrogen is formed at the cathode, oxygen at the anode and CO2 is released in the center compartment; and combining the hydrogen and the CO2 thermocatalytically to form gasoline. ...Raw synthesis gas containing hydrogen and carbon oxide and/or carbon dioxide useful in the synthesis of methanol, methane, and gasoline are normally obtained from the conversion of coal ... by a variety of known methods (but, the) advantages of using atmospheric CO2 as a source for the synthesis gas in the synthesis of gasoline are multifold. A vast natural resource is readily available. (And) it is a primary object of instant invention to provide a process for extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and combining this with electrolytic hydrogen to produce synthetic gas and gasoline";

our own United States Department of Energy, our United States Government, has had the technology in hand for more than several decades now to harvest Carbon Dioxide, the same stuff some folks want to shut our economically essential Coal-fired generators of abundant and affordable electric power down because they co-produce a - - relative to a number of all-natural and un-taxable sources of it's emission, such as volcanoes - - small amount of, and, to then convert that Carbon Dioxide into some of the stuff we seem willing to send our young citizens in uniform off to the Persian Gulf to fight and die for.

Further, using one process or another to convert Carbon Dioxide into hydrocarbon fuels, as seen for one example in our report of:

CO2 a "Powerful Option" for US Hydrocarbon Fuel Independence | Research & Development | News; concerning: "A Powerful Option in Plain Sight; Inspired by photosynthesis, scientists aim to invent materials that can produce fuels from sunlight, water, and CO2. A leaf isn't just beautiful - it is also a powerhouse. With only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide as inputs, leaves produce fuel for plants via the process known as photosynthesis. Fossil fuels - derived from ancient decayed organic matter - and biofuels draw on energy converted by this process. But leaves point the way to another option: We could gain greater energy independence if we could develop a fully artificial version of photosynthesis that produces fuels directly from sunlight, as leaves do. Solar fuels (made from Carbon Dioxide) could become abundant, sustainable successors to petroleum-based fuels";

we could actually eliminate our need in the USA for imported "petroleum-based fuels" by making those fuels "from ... water and CO2" 

That fact is confirmed again by the United States Department of Energy in the document we present herein, a sort of formal "Declaration of Independence", as it were, penned by a collaborative team of United States Government scientists who, through their studies and experimental work, have come to know that, by relying on Carbon Dioxide as the key raw material from which we can manufacture any and all sorts of hydrocarbon fuels, the United States of America could completely eliminate it's need for imported OPEC oil.

As revealed in excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch to

"Summary Report: Direct Approaches for Recycling Carbon Dioxide into Synthetic Fuel 

Report Numbers: SAND2009-0399; TRN: US200913/433

January 2009

James E. Miller, Lindsey R. Evans, Nathan P. Siegel, Richard B. Diver, Fred Gelbard, Andrea Ambrosini, and Mark D. Allendorf

Prepared by Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Livermore, California; Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000.

Abstract: The consumption of petroleum by the transportation sector in the United States is roughly equivalent to petroleum imports into the country, which have totaled over 12 million barrels a day every year since 2004. This reliance on foreign oil is a strategic vulnerability for the economy and national security.

Revolutionary thinking about energy and fuels must be adopted. We must recognize that hydrocarbon fuels are ideal energy carriers, but not primary energy sources. The energy stored in a chemical fuel is released for utilization by oxidation. In the case of hydrogen fuel the chemical product is water; in the case of a hydrocarbon fuel, water and carbon dioxide are produced. The hydrogen economy envisions a cycle in which H2O is re-energized by splitting water into H2 and O2, by electrolysis for example.

We envision a hydrocarbon analogy in which both carbon dioxide and water are re-energized through the application of a persistent energy source ... . This is of course essentially what the process of photosynthesis accomplishes, albeit with a relatively low sunlight-to-hydrocarbon efficiency. The goal of this project then was the creation of a direct and efficient process for the ... thermochemical conversion of CO2 to CO (and O2), one of the basic building blocks of synthetic fuels. This process would potentially provide the basis for an alternate hydrocarbon economy that is carbon neutral, provides a pathway to energy independence, and is compatible with much of the existing fuel infrastructure.

(Note: This dissertation is actually presented in support of the "thermochemical conversion of CO2", as discussed and disclosed for one example in our report of:

USDOE Solar Thermochemical CO2-to-Fuel | Research & Development | News; concerning: "Solar Fuel Production Through The Thermochemical Decomposition of Carbon Dioxide; Nathan P. Siegel, et. al.,  (USDOE) Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM USA; Abstract: Solar energy systems based on an intermittent resource benefit from an energy storage mechanism that decouples the solar resource from the load, enabling operation when the resource is unavailable. For utility scale power plants this is achieved with thermal energy storage (TES) systems incorporating significant volumes (some larger than 106 liters) of inorganic salts. Storing solar energy in the form of chemical fuels offers another more energy dense storage mechanism that enables the utilization of solar energy to address the energy needs of the transportation sector. Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems are capable of operating at the elevated temperatures needed to drive thermochemical reactions that convert the stable combustion products, carbon dioxide and water, first into synthesis gas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, and then into liquid hydrocarbon fuels such as methanol, gasoline, and jet fuel". 

The USDOE, however, has also developed, as seen for one example in:

USDOE Converts More Coal Exhaust CO2 into Gasoline | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent Application 20140272734 - Electrochemical Device for Syngas and Liquid Fuels Production; 2014; Inventors: Robert Braun, William Becker, and Michael Penev, CO (USDOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Colorado School of Mines); Abstract: The invention relates to methods for creating high value liquid fuels such as gasoline, diesel, jet and alcohols using carbon dioxide and water as the starting raw materials and a system for using the same. These methods combine a novel solid oxide electrolytic cell (SOEC) for the efficient and clean conversion of carbon dioxide and water to hydrogen and carbon monoxide, uniquely integrated with a gas-to-liquid fuels producing method";

electrochemical, and, as seen for one example in:

USDOE Pittsburgh 2015 Photosynthetic Fuels from CO2 | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 8,986,511 - Visible Light Photoreduction of CO2 Using Heterostructured Catalysts; 2015; Inventors: Christopher Matranga, et. al., Pittsburgh and Bethel Park, PA; Assignee: The United States Department of Energy, Washington, DC; Abstract: The method provides for use of sensitized photocatalyst for the photocatalytic reduction of CO2 under visible light illumination. ... In a particular embodiment, CO2 is reduced under visible light illumination using a CdSe/Pt/TiO2 ... photocatalyst with H2O as a hydrogen source. Government Interests: The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to the employer-employee relationship of the Government to the inventors as U.S. Department of Energy employees and site-support contractors at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Claims: A method of photocatalytically reducing CO2 in the presence of water (by) exposing the sensitized photocatalyst to CO2 and H2O, and ... visible light illumination, such that some portion of the CO2 is photocatalytically reduced and such that product molecules are produced. It is a further object of this disclosure to photocatalytically reduce CO2 under visible light excitation in the presence of hydrogen from a hydrogen source in order to produce product molecules such as hydrocarbons ... . The method may be utilized to produce product molecules following the photocatalytic reduction of CO2 with visible light illumination. In a particular embodiment, the product molecules are comprised of hydrocarbons, such as CH4 (Methane), CH3OH (Methanol), and others";

photochemical, technologies for converting Carbon Dioxide, as harvested from whatever handy source, and Water into virtually any and all sorts of hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals.)

The United States is the world’s leading importer of petroleum. Since 2004, imports to the U.S. have totaled over 12 million barrels per day (mbpd), accounting for about 60% of the country’s daily consumption of over 20 mbpd. In 2007 the U.S. transportation sector consumed 13.9 mbpd of petroleum while global petroleum production totaled only 81.2 mbpd. Hence, in 2007 the U.S. consumed over 25% of the world’s petroleum
production, consumed over 17% of the world’s production for the purpose of transportation, and imported about 15% of the world’s total production.

This reliance on petroleum imports represents a significant economic vulnerability, particularly to the vital transportation sector. The costs to economy have been large. A study conducted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory concluded that the cost of oil dependence to the U.S. economy from 1970-2004 totaled $8 trillion.

Furthermore, the increasing price of oil has contributed significantly to the trade deficit in recent years, accounting for more than half of the deficit in the first quarter of 2008. The reliance on petroleum imports has national security implications beyond the threat to the economy. Increasing attention has recently been given to the fact that the recent high price of oil is driving one of the largest transfers of wealth in history at a rate of $700 billion a year.

This wealth transfer has helped promote “Petroleum-nationalism” in Latin America and elsewhere, and some are as blunt to say that the U.S. and others are funding both sides of the “war on terror”.

In any case, it is clear that U.S. dependence on foreign petroleum has significant and likely increasing foreign policy implications. A recent task force report from the Council on Foreign Relations expressed it as follows:

 - - The lack of sustained attention to energy issues is undercutting U.S. foreign policy and U.S. national security. Major energy suppliers - from Russia to Iran to Venezuela - have been increasingly able and willing to use their energy resources to pursue their strategic and political objectives. Major energy consumers - notably the United States, but other countries as well - are finding that their growing dependence on imported energy increases their strategic vulnerability and constrains their ability to pursue a broad range of foreign policy and national security objectives. Dependence also puts the United States into increasing competition with other importing countries, notably with today’s rapidly growing emerging economies of China and India. At best, these trends will challenge U.S. foreign policy; at worst, they will seriously strain relations between the United States and these countries. - -

The reliance on foreign oil is thus a strategic vulnerability for the economy and national security.

Hydrocarbon fuels are ideal energy carriers, but they can no longer be thought of as primary energy sources. Rather, it is necessary that we take the realistic view that our conventional hydrocarbon fuels are in fact “stored sunlight” and “sequestered carbon.” That is, petroleum, coal and other fossil fuels are the end result of a long process that begin with a biological organism capturing sunlight and storing the energy of that captured sunlight by using it to drive chemical conversions of CO2 and H2O to hydrocarbons and oxygen (photosynthesis). A fraction of these hydrocarbons were then converted over time by heat and pressure to coal and oil. The overall efficiency of these processes in terms of sunlight to fuel was quite low, particularly for oil and natural gas. For oil, the sunlight to stored energy efficiency is estimated to be only about 0.0002%. It follows that the average U.S. gallon of gasoline is estimated to have begun as approximately 90 metric tons of ancient plant matter. Although the efficiency was low, the very long time scales resulted in an accumulation of vast quantities of carbon-based fossil fuels.

Project Goal and Outline: The broad goal of this project was to develop technology for efficiently converting CO2 and H2O, the same basic building blocks nature uses, to hydrocarbon fuels, using only sustainable, carbon-neutral energy sources. Specifically the project focused on the creation of a direct and efficient CO2 splitting (2CO2 → 2CO + O2) process ... .

Briefly, CO is one fundamental component, the other being H2, of syngas, the key intermediate for synfuel production. Reactions of syngas to form hydrocarbons are thermodynamically downhill. Hydrogen can be produced renewably with commercially available technologies, e.g. via photovoltaic-driven electrolysis.

Hydrogen may then be reacted with CO2 to directly produce methanol, or indirectly to produce CO and then methanol, for example.

(It) has been calculated that current technology would allow hydrocarbons to be manufactured from CO2 and electrolytic H2 with an electrical to hydrocarbon efficiency of roughly 40-50%. Thus a 5% sunlight-to-fuel efficiency is plausible for a PV-driven fuel production process.

Conclusion: Energy is by far the largest human endeavor on the planet; global expenditures measured roughly $3 trillion in 2005, or more than twice the amount spent on agriculture and 3 times the amount on defense. Tremendous capital is invested in the current hydrocarbon infrastructure, however massive capital investments will continue to be necessary, even if we choose to preserve the fossil fuel paradigm.

Applying renewable energy resources to recycle CO2 is a new paradigm for storing and transporting energy that preserves much of the hydrocarbon infrastructure, while offering a more environmentally sound future.

Thermochemical cycles for splitting water and carbon dioxide have promise as methods to realize this paradigm. CDS has been demonstrated over both iron- and ceria-based monolithic materials of the type required for a solar reactor such as the CR5. Carbon deposition is a possible concern for the Fe-based materials, however deposition of measureable quantities was not observed in this effort. This may be due to the high temperatures and relatively large excess of CO2 employed in these studies. As work proceeds towards pushing the reactions to lower temperatures and higher conversions, this problem may yet present itself. Cofeeding steam with CO2 is one potential solution. Alternately, ceria-based cycles appear to be attractive provided that the reaction kinetics can be improved. Future efforts should be directed towards understanding the reaction and materials chemistry of the Fe- and Ce-based systems, applying this information towards developing a new generation of materials, developing advanced structures and reactors, and conducting systems evaluations to determine the potential cost and viability of this approach".


We'll close our excerpts there to emphasize the point:

The United States Department of Energy itself says, in sum, that, we can harvest Carbon Dioxide from whatever source most convenient to us, and, then, in a process driven by "renewable energy resources", we can convert that Carbon Dioxide into "Synthetic Fuels" that are perfectly compatible with the "hydrocarbon infrastructure" we already have in place.

We now have it in our power to stop "funding both sides of the “war on terror”.

We now have it in our power to stop the transfer of "$700 billion a year" to the largely undemocratic and often unfriendly nations of OPEC.

We now have it in our power to put more United States citizens to work and to put an end to the specious global warming attacks on our economically essential generators of abundant Coal-based electricity.

As confirmed unequivocally herein by the United States Department of Energy, through their publication of "Summary Report: Direct Approaches for Recycling Carbon Dioxide into Synthetic Fuel", we can do all of that. We can, in fact, establish "the basis for an alternate hydrocarbon economy that is carbon neutral, provides a pathway to energy independence, and is compatible with much of the existing fuel infrastructure",  by recognizing and according the proper value to that potentially precious byproduct arising from our use of Coal in the generation of reliable and affordable electric power: Carbon Dioxide.