Here's a potentially really cool discovery that combines air and water, and it ain't Perrier.

UK-based Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS) says it has found a way for those two basic elements to be combined to make fuel. In a nutshell, the company electrolyzes water to produce hydrogen, which is combined with carbon dioxide via a fuel reactor to make a fuel-type liquid. And that fuel can be blended with gas, diesel or jet fuel. Describing this in more detail would require finding our 10th grade chemistry books (it's complicated), but the company says it's making as many as 10 liters of liquid fuel a day from a small demonstration setup.

AFS is putting some money into the project – about 1 million British pounds ($1.6 million) during the past two years, according to a BBC video that can be seen below – to bring the technology to commercial scale. You can also read AFS' more scientific explanation below. Don't worry, you won't be tested.

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Petrol from air an update

After the positive coverage following the recent IMechE CO2 air capture conference and the features on the front page of the Independent we have been inundated here at AFS with requests for media interviews and comments from social media forums. We have seen coverage across the world from leading national media including specialist scientific and engineering journals.

The BBC visited us today up at our demonstration plant in Teeside to talk about the innovative new alternative to fossil fuels, watch the interview below.

Too good to be true?

For some people, reading some of the more lurid reports perhaps, the process seems just too good to be true. In fact, of course, we are serious scientists, engineers and business people at AFS, our sound engineering processes have been supported by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and we have a solid business proposition.

Commercially viable

The IMechE recognise that our approach is a great example of pioneering British innovation around green, clean technology. Our business was also recognised during the recent Cleantech Investor Future Transport Challenge event, as innovative, practical and investable. A panel of distinguished investors which included: Dr Dominic Emery - Chief Development Officer for BP Alternative Energy; and Andreas Schamel; Ford's Chief Engineer Powertrain Research & Advanced Engineering Europe found that AFS was a clear winner. The panel members enquired about the building of commercial plants and how the price of fossil oil affects the AFS carbon neutral synthetic alternative. They learned that thanks to its successful demonstrator programme, AFS is now ready to build a commercial plant producing at levels of 1-tonne a day producing specialist fuels initially for example in top-end motorsport applications.

Independent engineering analysis conducted for AFS shows 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.

What's more an AFS plant will be non-polluting and provide a secure supply of fuel from a containerised unit located wherever required.

Energy consumption in production

Many people have raised the issue of how much energy the AFS process uses? As with any technology there is always a loss in any energy conversion. For example coal-fired power stations are only 30% efficient. However, at AFS our energy efficiency is better than that and will continue to improve as we build larger plants, and, of course we do not contribute to carbon-induced global warming.

The AFS technology allows us to capture surplus electrical energy, storing it in a way that is better and more useful than batteries. We intend to work with wind farms to capture excess energy that is not able to be used by the grid.

In summary,

The AFS process is technically proven and has been endorsed by credible scientists and engineers in the field. Our technology provides the potential for thousands of jobs and an economic boost. Only investment in new-green economy businesses, such as ours, will address the big issues of sustainable job creation, financial instability, carbon-induced climate change and energy security.

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