This article mixes a little interesting news with a load of hokem.
The low-cost direct air capture (DAC) of CO2 is interesting, especially if you’ve been duped into thinking CO2 is pollution. It uses electrical energy to produce a “stream of pure, compressed CO2” extracted from the air. That’s the interesting news part.
The hokem is to imply that you could use CO2 as fuel. Sure, you can separate the C from the O2 and use the C as fuel, but you have to put all the energy back in that burning it released.
Gasoline and diesel fuel are useful as fuels because when an engine burns them, their hydrogen and carbon components are combined with oxygen which releases energy. The output is H20 and CO2. If you take that output and separate it to reuse as fuel, you have to put back all the energy you took out plus some for process inefficiencies. You need new energy from somewhere. The article skipped over that and made it sound like you get a free energy lunch.
The article also says the produced carbon fuel would be “very low carbon.” But in reality it’s not “low carbon” at all. They didn’t actually say what the chemical makeup of “its trademarked AIR TO FUELS process” would be. The extracted pure carbon would probably have to be combined with hydrogen to form a hydro-carbon just like fuels from oil.
Perhaps they’re using the political definition of “carbon”, not the every-day scientific definition. That is, since the carbon atoms were extracted from the air, you get carbon credit so that the CO2 which your engine emits doesn’t count against you in the political sense. Dumb! Deceit! Hokem! Boring.
There is a minor interesting aspect to this though. If you believe as I do that the earth’s supply of oil is limited, and in fact each new barrel of oil is costing more and more energy to retrieve, then we should be looking for a new source of vehicle fuel. This could possibly be such a source. Though of course, it’s not really a source–it’s a means of storing electric energy as liquid fuel for engines to burn. Though we’ll need a lot more electrical energy to use it.