Researchers believe it will be economical to convert CO2 into various fuels

Researchers claim they are on the cusp of a CO2-recycling revolution, which would capture CO2 from power plants—and maybe even directly from the atmosphere—and convert it into these fuels at scale, they report today in Joule.

The scale-up and the advancements that have been happening in the last couple of years are really quite incredible. In terms of how close we are to industrial impact—they believe it could happen in 5 to 10 years.

In a forward-looking Perspective, they discuss the current state of technology and the economics of electrocatalytic transformation of CO2 into various chemical fuels. Their analysis finds that short-chain simple building-block molecules currently present the most economically compelling targets. Making an optimistic prediction of technology advancement in the future, we propose the gradual rise of photocatalytic, CO2 polymerization, biohybrid, and molecular machine technologies to augment and enhance already practical electrocatalytic CO2 conversion methods.

Techno-economic Analysis of CO2 Electroreduction

(A) Comparison of the cost of various chemicals between the current market price and the levelized cost from CO2 reduction assuming an electrolyzer cost of $500/kW, energy conversion efficiency of 60%, Faradaic efficiency of 90%, electricity cost of 2 ¢/kWh, and CO2 cost of 30$/ton.

(B) Comparison of CO2-derived molecules based on technical parameters of Faradaic efficiency and current density.

(C) Contour plot of economics of CO production based on electricity and CO2 cost.

Ycombinator commenters doubt that the claims of a CO2 recycling revolution will be realized.