If Carbon Sciences succeeds, some of us will be driving on gasoline sourced from a landfill.
The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company today said that it has made technical progress on a process that would take two greenhouse gases--methane and carbon dioxide--and convert them into gasoline.
The goal is to take methane--the main ingredient in natural gas--and carbon dioxide and synthesize them through a chemical process to make a liquid fuel that can stand in for gasoline.
Carbon Sciences said its tests indicate that its catalyst can work at a sufficient conversion rate and is durable. The company didn't disclose what the catalysts are, but said they are made from common metals.
If successful, the process would allow yield liquid fuel without petroleum. Landfills would be good sources of methane and carbon dioxide because they give off large amounts of these heat-trapping gases, company CEO Byron Elton said in an interview with CNN.
Carbon dioxide could also be sourced from power plants and methane could also be created by gasifying biomass, such as algae, according to the company. The gasoline would be less polluting than crude oil-derived gasoline because it does not contain smog-causing air pollutants.
There are a number of other companies and researchers experimenting with so-called gas-to-liquids technology. Carbon Sciences says that its process differs with traditional gas-to-liquids approaches because carbon dioxide will react directly with methane through it catalysts, and make it less energy intensive and less expensive.
Carbon Sciences still has not demonstrated its technology at a scale beyond lab tests.
It's one of several companies that is pursuing technology to use carbon dioxide as a feedstock in other products, such as liquid fuels or plastic.