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Researchers test capturing CO2 before it leaves the car

Automotive news reports on efforts to sequester CO2 emissions from cars.

Automotive News

With many countries planning legislation to slash carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks, developing low-CO2 vehicles has become a top priority for auto engineers.

Net CO2 emissions can be reduced in three main ways:

1. Encourage people to drive less.

2. Make cars more fuel efficient.

3. Use different fuels or propulsion systems that emit less CO2, such as hydrogen fuel cell cars.

But there is another idea: capturing a vehicle's CO2 before it reaches the atmosphere.

The concept is not new. In 2005, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change produced a report on carbon capture and storage. But the report focused on large, fixed CO2 emitters, such as power stations, and did not factor in carbon capture for transportation.

Now scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta have come up with a concept that could lead to major reductions in net CO2 emissions from vehicles.

The system, developed by Georgia Tech professor Andrei Fedorov, removes the carbon from hydrocarbon fuels before it enters the engine. This means the engine does not emit any CO2 as the vehicle travels.

"The conventional internal combustion engine is a good candidate for this," Fedorov told Automotive News Europe. "We simply decarbonize the fuel in a reformer before it reaches the engine. This separates the carbon from the hydrogen.

"In the engine, we're burning the resulting hydrogen and releasing heat, water and nitrogen."

An exhaust catalyst easily can deal with the small amount of nitrogen oxide, Fedorov said. This process will work with both gasoline and methanol.

(Source: Automotive News)