Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL, www.lanl.gov) has developed a low-risk, transformational concept for large-scale production of carbon-neutral, sulfur-free fuels and organic chemicals from air and water. Ultimately, the process, which LANL is calling Green Freedom, would be able to produce automobile and jet fuel from carbon-dioxide emissions, according to scientists working on the project.

At the heart of the technology is a new process for extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and making it available for fuel production using a new form of electrochemical separation. By integrating this electrochemical process with existing technology, researchers believe they have developed practical approach to producing fuels and organic chemicals that would permit continued use of existing industrial and transportation infrastructure. Via this process, fuel production would be driven by carbon-neutral power, according to LANL.

In addition to the electrochemical separation process, the Green Freedom system is designed to use existing cooling towers, such as those of nuclear power plants, with carbon-capture equipment, thus eliminating the need for additional structures to process large volumes of air. The primary environmental impact of the production facility is limited to the footprint of the plant, according to LANL. It uses non-hazardous materials for its feed and operation and has a small waste stream volume. In addition, unlike large-scale biofuel concepts, the Green Freedom system does not add pressure to agricultural capacity or use large tracts of land or farming resources for production.

The concept”s viability has been reviewed and verified by both industrial and semi-independent Los Alamos National Laboratory technical reviews. The next phase will demonstrate the new electrochemical process to prove the ability of the system to both capture carbon dioxide and pull it back out of solution. An industrial partnership consortium will be formed to commercialize the Green Freedom concept.