Turning air into petrol
I hope everybody saw a copy of the Independent on 19th October! The front page is an exclusive about a small company called Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS) based in Stockton-on-Tees. It has succeeded in putting together a series of different processes to extract CO2 from the air, and then produce petrol from it. Not much of it so far, but a huge potential for the future.
I visited this plant back in July and, was hugely impressed at what I saw. This is a comment I made at the time: “Just to say how much I enjoyed my visit to AFS. I believe what you are pioneering through AFS is hugely significant, both in the short term (in terms of responding to the needs of certain niche markets) and in the long term. Harnessing the benign properties of CO2 to create genuinely sustainable fuels for the future is still, for many, no more than a ‘distant dream’. I really think you and your colleagues could turn that dream into a reality”.
On the same day, Tim Fox, Head of Energy & Environment at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, was also visiting. He is quoted in the Independent as saying, “It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. They are doing it, and I’ve been up there myself and seen it”.
The innovation is that they have made it happen as a process. It’s a small pilot plant, capturing air and extracting CO2 from it, based on well-known principles. It uses well-known components, but what is exciting is that they have put the whole thing together, and shown that it can work.
It’s still unbelievably optimistic to assume that this really will turn into a great global industry providing huge amounts of kerosene for aviation (which is the real game plan behind the entire project), but this is exactly the kind of hopeful innovation that we need so much of for the future.
And brilliant that one of the instigators of this, Tony Marmont, has seen one of his many dreams starting to come true – he is one of the true pioneers of today’s sustainable and renewable revolution, and just one of the most inspiring people imaginable. Together with Peter Harrison, they’ve created something really special here.