Gallery: British Firm Produces Liquid Fuel From Water and Thin Air


Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS), a small firm in Stockton-on-Tees, UK, has succeedin in synthesizing gasoline from water and carbon dioxide (CO2) extracted from air. The Independent reported on Friday that the company has manufactured five liters of gas since August using a small refinery at its demonstrator plant. While that is a small volume to start with, AFS plans larger demonstrations and commercial-scale production. Essentially, the process will allow renewable energy to be converted into usable fuel in a sustainable carbon-neutral process.

Tim Fox, head of energy and the environment for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in London, told The Independent: “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 and well-established components, but what is exciting is that they have put the whole thing together and shown that it can work.”

AFS admits that “For some people, reading some of the more lurid reports perhaps, the process seems just too good to be true.” However, the company insists that “we are serious scientists, engineers and business people” with a process that really works and that can be scaled up to commercial levels of production. Independent engineering analysis has confirmed that “a 1-tonne a day production plant taking carbon from a point source such as a brewery, distillery or aerobic digestor (which can be built within 18-24 months of funding) can be competitive with equivalent specialist fossil fuels and commercially viable.” Not only that, the company says, “an AFS plant will be non-polluting and provide a secure supply of fuel from a containerized unit located wherever required.”

AFS company materials say that its process “captures carbon dioxide and water from the air, electrolyzes the water to make hydrogen, and reacts the carbon dioxide and hydrogen together to make hydrocarbon fuels.” All components of the system are available now as either off-the-shelf components or demonstrations.

Paul Marks, writing for New Scientist, cautions that, in spite of the promise of the new technology, its energy efficiency has yet to be proven. Douglas Stephan, a chemist in Canada who is researching the production of fuel from CO2, tells Marks, “Until a detailed assessment of the energy efficiency is enunciated, I would remain skeptical about this technology.” That apparently isn’t going to be done until AFS has had a chance to build a larger demonstration plant allowing for evaluation of this key question.

+ Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS)

Photo and diagram credits: AFS


or your inhabitat account below


  1. trendsworld January 19, 2013 at 4:44 am

    Petrol from Air and Water? A new method to produce petrol for more information

    The news that burst on Friday said that petrol can be made from air and water. At present, the petrol is being extracted from ores and then pumped in to vehicles in the petrol bunks on the roadsides.

  2. Juan Carlos October 27, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Well this is great as a source of fuel for current cars, but it’s using hydrogen from water and CO2 that will get to the atmosphere again because of the combustion in the car. If you use hydrogen in the car, it’s a more direct conversion and less energy is used.

  3. Rick Powell October 26, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    So how small of a footprint can this process be squeezed into? We already have residential garage-based solar/wind (free energy) powered systems that split water into hydrogen 24×7 and compress it into a tank for later use home fueling our autos retrofitted for dual fuel. One drawback of compressed gas fuel is that its energy density cannot match liquid fuels – which the AFS technology seems to overcome.

  4. 1sunergy October 23, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Well, don’t get so excited about it.
    We all know that energy can’t be produced without using energy.
    For solar electricity production, the ratio is ~1:6 and for wind, is ~1:20, which means, if the energy you spent to make solar modules is 1, then return is 6 times of the energy you put in for the life of solar modules and for wind it’ around 20 times.

    So how much energy it will cost to produce the liquid fuel?, because CO2 and H2O are very stable molecules and to break them up it will take lots of energy!

  5. Step into Real October 23, 2012 at 10:28 am

    awesome cus we need water to be 5 bucks a gallon.. i never drank that stuff anyways..

  6. laxmi_hari October 23, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Its a revolutionary technology.We have to work out for mass production of the fuel.The company can set up plants in India where there is huge tracks of land and other required resources available and the climate is also temperate.

  7. fanateco October 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Renewable and reduces CO2 = Winning x 2

  8. scubin October 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    This sounds great. A real boost to the environment and economies.
    If it works I just hope coal and oil barons don’t buy it out and bury it.
    I’m not a scientist or engineer but it their is anything I can do
    let me know.

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home