Future of Sustainable Transportation Fuels Webinar 3: Recycling CO2 to Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels

July 28, 2015


Thomas Seager, Associate Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University


Klaus Lackner, Director, Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, Arizona State University

James E. Miller, Principal Member of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories

Timothy Zenk, Executive Vice President of Business Development, Algenol


Webinar #3 will include the emerging technological possibilities for captured CO2 from waste streams (or directly from the atmosphere) and using it as a pre-concentrated carbon source to produce transportation fuels, which falls in the space of “carbon capture and utilization” (CCU). CO2-to-Fuels is a research trajectory where the policy risks are unknown because of its intersection with complex politics of mitigating the risk of climate change and constructing carbon policy. Some think affordable CO2-to-fuels would be a major feat of science and engineering that is achievable – others question both achievability and the wisdom of a technology that recycles the carbon back to the fuels system.

A conceptual risk is that CO2 is now by law treated as a pollutant leading to a primary focus on two choices, either CO2-free technologies or permanent sequestration. An alternative paradigm is waste management, which suggests adding recycling and reuse and even seeking opportunities for the waste product to be economically profitable and environmentally neutral if the right technologies are developed and deployed in a specific policy environment. The conversation could consider the implications of the impact on creating new options for policy makers to respond to and whether this can create a rapid and economically efficient response to CO2 emission control or slow down the transition by either not permanently sequestering the CO2 or extending the life of high emitters.