By Anav Silverman
Tazpit News Agency
A replacement for oil has become a burning need in the 21st century, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu having made it clear that for the Jewish state at least, developing oil alternative is a national priority.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have invented a process to make a green feed alternative for crude oil out of two of the most common substances on Earth – water and carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas detrimental to the environment. The project is partially supported by I-SAEF (Israel Strategic Alternative Energy Foundation).
Prof. Moti Herskowitz, Prof. Miron Landau, Dr. Roxana Vidruk and the team at BGU’s Blechner Center of Industrial Catalysis and Process Development have developed a green feed that can be converted using well-established technologies into liquid fuel and delivered using existing infrastructure to gas stations. As opposed to other alternative fuel sources, such as electric cars, which require additional infrastructure, this green feed would merely replace oil as the input for refineries.
Herskowitz unveiled the revolutionary breakthrough at the Bloomberg Fuel Choices Summit in Tel Aviv last week, on Wednesday, November 13th.
“It is an extraordinary challenge to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen to green feed,” says Herskowitz. “The technology is based on novel specially tailored catalysts and catalytic processes. Well-established, commercially available technology can be directly applied to the process developed at BGU. It is envisaged that the short-term implementation of the process will combine synthetic gas produced from various renewable and alternative sources with carbon dioxide and hydrogen.”
Prof. Herskowitz, who is the Israel Cohen Chair in Chemical Engineering and the VP & Dean at BGU, indicated that the new process should become a reality in the near future. “Since there are no foreseen technological barriers, the new process should become a reality within five to ten years,” he says.
Regarding other alternative fuels, Herskowitz maintains that his invention represents a game-changer.
“The liquids that have been used over the past decade are ethanol (alcohol), biodiesel and/or blends of these fuels with conventional fuels, as will continue to be done in the foreseeable future. These alternatives are, however, far from ideal, and there is a pressing need for a game-changing approach to produce alternative drop-in liquid transportation fuels by sustainable, technologically viable and environmentally acceptable processes from abundant, low-cost, renewable materials.”
Researchers at the Blechner Center of Industrial Catalysis and Process Development, which was founded in 1995, have also developed a novel process for converting vegetable and algae oils to advanced green diesel and jet fuels.