This project’s goal is to complete the carbon cycle by combining the fully renewable resources. This entails combining CO2 from the air with water and renewable electricity to form methanol (CH3OH).
This process can be realized for one or multiple buildings on campus, including the high-pressure laboratory. This makes it possible to store a temporary surplus in electricity generated by solar panels/wind turbines, thus actively reducing CO2 emissions. The CO2 produced can then be turned into electricity in fuel cells, but also into petrol and diesel replacements (DME) or into a resource for plastics (back into synthesis gas). Furthermore, the collected CO2 could also be used for growing processes in greenhouses and for the cultivation of algae. This contributes to the creation of a society in which the carbon cycle is completed without creating an energy, food or resources deficit.
This could become an overarching theme for various R&D projects (technology, materials science, social/health), educational projects and design projects (especially due to the enormous amounts of air required) focusing on social and health aspects as well as technological aspects.
Over the past few years, basic elements of these technologies have for the most part been explored. CO2 capture is a proven technology for the removal of CO2 from waste gases (at 10% CO2) and can now be developed further for air treatment (to about 400 ppm CO2). The new CO2-to-methanol reactor concept has been described in a UT patent (2013) and is operational at laboratory scale.
The project can fit in seamlessly with current programmes (e.g. Transport Phenomena, Module 6 for ST and projects under ATLAS, TN and WB) as well as with research projects at various faculties. The project will likely be an important, additional component in the development of major, newsworthy projects, such as MARS-1.
There are definitely external parties (including market parties) that show an interest in this approach and that may be willing to participate.