United States Patent: 4197421

Concerning atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, as it exists in the air around us all, an accomplished scientist in the employ of the United States Department of Energy, as confirmed by experts in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, says:

"A vast natural resource is readily available (which can provide) an alternate and extended supply of premium synthetic carbonaceous fuel for this country thus advancing the goal of energy self-sufficiency."

Again, that statement refers directly and specifically to Carbon Dioxide, as it exists in the environment.

We have previously cited the accomplishments of the esteemed Brookhaven, NY, National Laboratory USDOE scientist, Meyer Steinberg.

Most pertinent to our presentation in this dispatch is our earlier report of:

USDOE 1976 Atmospheric CO2 to Methanol | Research & Development; concerning: "United States Patent 3,959,094 - Electrolytic Synthesis of Methanol from CO2; 1976; Inventor: Meyer Steinberg; Assignee: The USA as represented by the USDOE; Abstract: A method and system for synthesizing methanol from the CO2 in air using electric power."

Herein, we see that Steinberg continued his work and refined his techniques for recycling "the CO2 in air", and was, only four years later, rewarded with yet another United States Patent establishing, what should have been once and for all, the fact, that, Carbon Dioxide could, indeed, we insist should, be seen as "a vast natural resource".

Comment follows, and is inserted within, excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch to:

"United States Patent 4,197,421 - Synthetic Carbonaceous Fuels and Feedstocks

Date: April, 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.

(Note, as far as "scrubbing CO2 from the atmosphere" with an "aqueous sodium hydroxide solution" goes, we reference our earlier reports of:

CO2 Recovered from Air for CO2-to-Gasoline Conversion | Research & Development; concerning, in part:

"United States Patent 4,047,894 - Removing Carbon Dioxide from the Air; 1977; Assignee: Siemens Aktiengesellschaft; Abstract: An improved method and apparatus for removing carbon dioxide from the air in which the air is passed at a slightly elevated pressure over the surfaces of absorption elements impregnated with a carbon dioxide-absorbing liquid (and)  wherein said carbon dioxide absorbing liquid is potassium hydroxide"; and:

US Navy and Columbia University Recycle Atmospheric CO2 | Research & Development; which contains:

"United States Patent 7,833,328 - Scrubber for Capturing Carbon Dioxide from Air; 2010; Assignee: Columbia University; Abstract: The present invention is directed to methods for carbon dioxide from air, which comprises exposing solvent covered surfaces to air streams (and) wherein the solvent is a hydroxide solution".

Both provide more information on how solutions of alkali metal, i.e., Lithium, Sodium, Potassium, hydroxides can be efficiently utilized to productively scrub, in cyclic processes, Carbon Dioxide from plain old air.)

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. 

A process ...  wherein oxygen generated at the anode is vented into the atmosphere. 

A process ... wherein the sodium hydroxide is regenerated at the cathode. 

A process ... wherein the regenerated sodium hydroxide is recycled to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

A process ... wherein the water of reaction resulting from the catalytic conversion of the gaseous mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide into methanol and then gasoline, is recycled to the three compartment electrolytic cell. 

A process ... wherein the three compartment electrolytic cell operates at about 3 to 3.5 volts and a current density of about 200 to 700 amps/sq.ft.

(Note, with apologies for what will be a quite lengthy digression, since the term "current density" might be unfamiliar to our readers, and, since anyone who's fiddled around at all with electric devices will know that "200 to 700 amps" seems like a lot of juice, no matter how you slice it, we refer you to the following sources for more information:

Electrochemical Science and Technology Information Resource (ESTIR); wherein we're told, that "current density" is, simply, a statement of the total "current divided by the true electrode area"; and:

Transformers Part 2 - Beginners' Guide to Electronics; wherein we learn that "current densities" of up to 3 amps per square millimeter are common in electrical devices.

Further, in:

Square foot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; we can learn that there are, as we read it, darned-near 100,000 square millimeters in a square foot.

So, a "current density" of "200 to 700 amps" coming through an electrode, or an electric "plate", with an area of one "square foot" might not be all that daunting.

More, much more, can be learned via the information offered by Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University, in their seemingly all-encompassing:

Electrochemistry Dictionary and Encyclopedia.

The bottom line is that "a current density of about 200 to 700 amps/sq.ft." is well within the realm of practicality, and, at the specified, low "3 to 3.5 volts", a good transformer could likely provide it without too much difficulty, from a source, which, we humbly suggest, such as those seen in:

Mountaineer Wind Energy Center - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; "Mountaineer Wind Energy Center is a wind farm on Backbone Mountain in ... West Virginia"; and:

Ground broken for new hydro plant   - News - The Charleston Gazette - West Virginia News and Sports -; "Ground broken for new hydro plant: St. Marys, WV - Construction is under way on a $276 million hydroelectric plant at the Willow Island Locks and Dam";

wouldn't generate more Carbon Dioxide in the course of generating electricity to recycle Carbon Dioxide.

Such electricity-generating facilities could be site-specific and purpose-built to both collect atmospheric CO2 and then to recycle it, via the process of our subject, "US Patent 4,197,421 - Synthetic Carbonaceous Fuels and Feedstocks" into such rather ordinary things as "gasoline, methane and methanol", which could be distributed to where they're needed by the existing gas pipeline and liquid fuel delivery infrastructure.)

A process ... wherein the atmospheric gas stream may contain 0.035% to 20% by volume of carbon dioxide. 
(Since the "gas stream may contain 0.035% to 20% by volume of carbon dioxide", this process could work either on plain old air or flue gas coming out of a smoke stack.)

A process ... which is a continuous process.

A process ... wherein the aqueous sodium hydroxide solution contains about 5-25% sodium hydroxide. 

A process ... wherein the electrolytic cell is operated below the boiling point of the electrolyte.

Description and Background: 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.

(Sadly, there is nothing "normal" about obtaining "methanol, methane, and gasoline ... from the conversion of coal" in the United States of America, even though a US Government scientist claims that it is.)

(This) invention utilizes the atmosphere as a source of the oxides of carbon (CO and CO2), from which pure CO2 is recovered in a three compartment electrolytic cell together with electrolytic H2 to produce synthetic fuels. 

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. A desirable CO2 balance between the biosphere and the atmosphere can be maintained by the removal of the CO2 from the atmosphere. A pure CO2 gas and H2 gas is obtained from the electrolytic cell for use in the synthesis of carbonaceous fuel. The atmospheric CO2 provides an alternate and extended supply of premium synthetic carbonaceous fuel for this country thus advancing the goal of energy self-sufficiency. It would eliminate many environmental and safety problems inherent in fossil fuel utilization. It is more economical. 

Accordingly, 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. 

Another object of instant invention is to provide a process for extracting CO2 from the atmosphere with sodium hydroxide, and electrolytically decomposing the resulting sodium carbonate solution into the concommitant generation of hydrogen and the release of concentrated CO2 which are then thermocatalytically combined to form gasoline.

This electrolytic carbonate system may also be used for stack gas scrubbing of CO2."

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We reckon we'll close our excerpts right there, since the close juxtaposition of the phrases "to form gasoline" from "stack gas ... CO2" has such a nice feel to it.

And, presuming you to have followed our posts thus far, there shouldn't be anything conceptually new in any of the foregoing.

As in, for just two examples:

Chicago Recycles CO2 to Methanol | Research & Development; concerning: "United States Patent 4,609,441 - Electrochemical Reduction of Aqueous Carbon Dioxide to Methanol; 1986; Assignee: Gas Research Institute, Chicago; Abstract: A method of producing methanol from carbon dioxide is set forth. A solution of carbon dioxide in an aqueous solvent having electrolyte dissolved therein is electrolyzed utilizing a molybdenum cathode. Faradaic efficiency is generally quite high and without detectable corrosion. A method of producing methanol from carbon dioxide (which comprises) electrolyzing a solution of carbon dioxide in an aqueous solvent having an electrolyte therein and utilizing a cathode which comprises molybdenum to produce methanol"; and:

Chicago Recycles CO2 to Methane | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 4,609,440 - Electrochemical Synthesis of Methane; 1986; Assignee: Gas Research Institute, Chicago; Abstract: A method is described for electrochemically reducing carbon dioxide to form methane by electrolyzing an aqueous solution containing carbon dioxide utilizing a cathode which comprises ruthenium. If desired, solar energy can be utilized to provide the potential for the electrolyzing. In such an instance, solar energy is, in essence, stored as chemical energy which can later be recovered from the methane";

we've previously documented that electrolyzing water solutions of Carbon Dioxide and an appropriate Carbon Dioxide "solvent", such as an alkali metal hydroxide/metal carbonate can lead to the efficient production of both liquid, i.e., "methanol", and gaseous, i.e., "methane", hydrocarbon fuels.

And, what the heck:

Since we can, as via the process of our subject herein, "United States Patent 4,197,421", and via the process of the above-cited "United States Patent 4,609,440 ", efficiently convert aqueous solutions of Carbon Dioxide into, among other things, "methane", we remind you, as seen, for just one now out of many examples of very similar "bi-reforming" and "tri-reforming" technologies we have previously documented for you, in:

Exxon 2010 CO2 + Methane = Liquid Hydrocarbons | Research & Development; concerning: "United States Patent 7,772,447 - Production of Liquid Hydrocarbons from Methane; 2010; Assignee: ExxonMobil, Houston; Abstract: (A) process for converting methane to liquid hydrocarbons (by) contacting a feed containing methane and ...  H2O (and) CO2 with a (specified) catalyst under conditions effective to convert said methane to aromatic hydrocarbons, including benzene and naphthalene, and produce a first effluent stream comprising aromatic hydrocarbons and hydrogen";

that, we can then react that CO2-derived Methane with even more of our "vast natural resource" Carbon Dioxide, recovered from whatever source, and thereby form even more "hydrocarbons".

The kicker is, that, as herein, our own United States Government not only knows all of that to be true, but, they also own much of the technology needed to make it happen.

Yet, they are the ones who continue to threaten our vital Coal-use industries with suspect and specious measures like Cap and Trade taxation and outright extortions like mandated Geologic Sequestration.


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