My Car Runs on Air

Image Credit: Hamed Saber (CC BY)

Hybrid cars may have been a step in the right direction, but can we really eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels altogether?

Every so often an idea comes around that could revolutionise an entire industry. A small company based in Stockton-on-Tees believe they have done just that by demonstrating how to make petrol out of air. They are called AirFuelSynthesis (AFS) and they have developed a carbon neutral fuel that could be adopted without any major changes to current transport infrastructure.

The technology seems too good to be true. Electrolysis separates hydrogen from water while carbon dioxide is extracted from the air by electrolysing sodium carbonate solution. Combining the hydrogen and carbon dioxide in a fuel reactor creates a hydrocarbon mixture from which fuels and other oil based products can be made. When renewable energy sources are used to power the electrolysis cells, AFS are essentially creating a carbon neutral substitute for petrol which does not require oil to be extracted from the ground.

Unfortunately, the phase in the process which extracts carbon dioxide from air remains too inefficient for the integrated system to become commercially viable. Instead AFS have used industrial sources of carbon dioxide until it is able to improve the performance of carbon capture. Nevertheless, they have ambitious plans to develop a carbon neutral aviation fuel and build a large scale plant within the next two years with the output capacity of one tonne of sustainable fuel per day. Find out more and follow any developments with this game changing technology at


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