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Australian-Israeli Venture Turns Emissions Into Fuel With Solar Energy

An Israeli-Australian venture aims to use concentrated solar power technology to turn carbon emissions from coal fired power generators in Victoria into fuel.

An Israeli-Australian venture aims to use concentrated solar power technology to turn carbon emissions from coal fired power generators in Victoria into fuel.
    
Developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science by Professor Jacob Karni,  the technology utilises concentrated solar energy to split carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen.  Multiple reactors on optical concentrators mounted on a solar tracker make up the basic carbon dioxide conversion unit.
  
The same technique also makes it possible to split water into hydrogen and oxygen while breaking down carbon dioxide. The resulting carbon monoxide and an associated product mixed with hydrogen called Syngas can be used as a fuel in power stations or converted into methanol for use in vehicles and other applications.
  
The venture was recently launched in Israel by Australia’s NewCO2Fuels Ltd., a subsidiary of  Greenearth Energy Ltd.; exclusive licensee of the technology.
  
Having proved successful in laboratory trials, NewCO2Fuels Ltd. is currently constructing an industrial-scale solar reactor. Part of this development is occurring in collaboration with the Canadian Institute for the Energies and Applied Research at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
   
Greenearth Energy is eyeing the vast brown coal resources in Victoria as a source of fuel for the system. Brown coal is considered the filthiest of fossil fuels given its high emissions and other contaminants released when burned. Brown coal features heavily in Victoria’s power generation and in 2009, accounted for over 65 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
   
Converting carbon dioxide to fuel in a clean and efficient manner will turn brown coal into a “source of environmentally friendly fuel”, says the Weizmann Institute of Science’s press release. 
    
While this doesn’t take into consideration the multitude of other issues associated with brown coal mining and use; anything that reduces emissions from existing power generation is a positive step forward. This has become even more important given the Victorian government’s backflip on election commitments of a 20% carbon emission reduction target and capping emissions from new coal fired power stations. 
   
However, it may concern some that the use of the technology might be seen as an excuse to fully plunder Victoria’s vast resources of the filthy fossil fuel; to the detriment of the uptake of renewable energy for direct power generation and the environment generally.
   

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