Clean Technology 2009

Production of Synfuels from CO2 and Nuclear Power – a “Win-Win” Clean Technology

K.R. Schultz, A.S. Shenoy
General Atomics, US

Keywords: synfuels, CO2, nuclear power


The US currently releases 1,900 million metric tons (MMt) of CO2 into the environment each year during production of electricity from coal, and another 1,800 MMt/year by consumption of hydrocarbon transportation fuels. Capture of the CO2 from electric power production and use of it to produce synthetic hydrocarbon transportation fuels (synfuels) to replace petroleum-based fuels could cut this CO2 release in half. Preliminary analysis of the CO2 to Synfuel concept indicates CO2 could be captured from existing fossil-fired electric plants by oxy-firing and condensing the water. CO2 and water can be converted to syngas by electrolysis of water (3H2O => 3H2 + 11/2O2) and the reverse water gas shift reaction (CO2 + H2 => CO + H2O) to get CO + 2H2. The syngas can be converted to synthetic hydrocarbon transportation fuels using the Fischer-Tropsch reaction (CO + 2H2 => CH2 + H2O). If the CO2 released by coal-fired electricity production were converted to synfuels, all our transportation fuel needs could be met, and the CO2 produced from these two sources (roughly 2/3 of US production) could be cut in half. Preliminary economic evaluation indicates that with a modest tax on release of CO2, the cost of producing synfuel could be comparable to current transportation fuel costs (~$2 – 4/gallon).
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