Last week a British company called Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS) made a startling announcement: They were producing gasoline from thin air. The media predictably lapped up this story, with one media outlet proclaiming it "the holy grail of the emerging green economy” and another (falsely) claiming that burning the fuel produces "no emissions whatsoever.”
Many companies have made these sorts of extraordinary claims in the past only to fall short, consuming taxpayer dollars and private investments in the process. The most basic due diligence starts with the simple adage: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
The deal here is taking carbon dioxide and water, adding gobs of energy to recombine them into hydrocarbons and oxygen. This is the reverse of burning the hydrocarbon in the first place, which releases energy.
Engineers are required to take business and even law classes to graduate. I was. Business and Political Science (pre-law) students are not required to learn any engineering. Thermodynamics, or even staying awake in chemistry class could prevent these scams from stealing very much money.
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