One-time Australian geothermal aspirant Greenearth Energy says it has successfully proven the commercial viability of its solar powered CO2 to fuel conversion technology, aimed at reducing the emissions of fossil fuel power plants.
The ASX-listed company announced on Tuesday that Stage 2 testing of the technology, developed through a joint venture with Israeli company NewCO2Fuels (NCF), had proven the 100 per cent renewable solar driven configuration for the system, and increased the dissociation rate of CO2 into carbon monoxide (CO) and oxygen by a factor of 4 over Stage 1 testing results, released in January.
As we wrote in 2012, the technology was developed by the Israeli arm of the JV – a team headed up by Professor Jacbo Karni, who devised a method of using concentrated solar energy to “dissociate” carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide and oxygen. It can also dissociate water to hydrogen and oxygen, thus creating syngas, which can be used as a gaseous fuel, or converted into a liquid fuel, for easier storage and transportation.
In January, after completion of the Stage 1 proof of concept tests, Greenearth said NCF’s ongoing technical accomplishments had “already resulted in order of magnitude improvements” in the cost efficiency of the carbon dioxide to fuel technology.
In an ASX release on Tuesday, Greenearth said the system held “great potential” to produce a clean and renewable alternative to fossil fuels using CO2 emitted from industrial processes as its feedstock.
But as Greenearth chairman Rob Annells said back in 2012, the technology also has great potential to allow for increased use of heavy-emitting energy sources, not least of all the “vast brown coal” resource of the Melbourne-based company’s home state, Victoria.
The successful demonstration of the commercial viability of Greenearth’s CO2-fuel technology would be welcome news for both the company and its investors, having experienced significantly less good fortune in the geothermal stakes.
In October last year, we reported that the company’s planned 12MW geothermal energy project for the city of Geelong was in serious doubt after the Victorian government withdrew its $25 million grant – a near fatal blow, preceded by another August, when Greenearth’s application for funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) was rejected.
The Geelong Geothermal Power Project was to have been located about 11km North West of Anglesea, on the Holcim Ltd Moriac quarry site. It had three planned stages: drilling to prove the local geothermal resource; constructing a 12 MW demonstration plant; development of a commercial plant.
In a statement accompanying this week’s ASX announcement, the CEO of NewCO2Fuels, David Banitt, said the results of the stage 2 tests were especially exciting from a commercial perspective.
“Measuring such high and reliable performance in the operation of our first module is very rewarding for the NCF team,” Banitt said.
“The excitement is not only from the technology side but also, and I should say most importantly, from the market side. We continue to receive very positive responses and support indicating that there is a strong demand for NCF’s technology, especially because of the attractive expected financial performance of systems driven by either waste heat, or solar energy.”