Clean as you go and there’s more potential biofuel

Clean as you go and there’s more potential biofuel, three inventors from North Wales have developed a box that can capture the exhaust gases of cars so they can be used to grow algae.
There are a number of technical difficulties that need to be overcome. Firstly, how do they stop the exhaust gases choking the engine/blowing the exhaust system apart? Secondly, and one for the plant scientists, Does chlorophyll get as closely attached to carbon monoxide as haemoglobin? if it does then the algae are going to be gonners. But a nice idea, a car that cleans as it goes.

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7 Responses to Clean as you go and there’s more potential biofuel

  1. Mark C R UK 25 July, 2007 at 12:05 pm #

    I read about this yesterday in the local news paper…

    And am about to write to the editor to put some points regarding the article.

    This is a CARBON CAPTURE technology.

    It has no connection with BIOFUELS whatsoever.

    I’m also going to put some points and contacts to the three gentlemen involved – since there were (in my opinon) unfounded allegations that they were being ignored. It seemed to me that their “Wales-only” focus was completely at odds with how the innovation/development culture in the UK and Europe operates……

    Expected better – why can’t the media get the specifics right?!?!?

  2. Biofuelsimon 26 July, 2007 at 9:32 am #

    Hi Mark,
    The media has trouble reporting science-style stories mainly because it is made up of people largely trained in the humanities rather than sciences so its hard for them to get their heads round many technical ideas. Secondly, they can often only report what they are told by people and they have to find someone who will talk to them, thirdly they have to do it in no time at all. Can be tricky.

    You are right the box is about carbon capture, what made it a story for me is that it can be used potentially by algae to produce biofuels. There are some pretty big (possibly insurmountable) hurdles to cross though. Not least of which what happens to the carbon monoxide component, it it oxidised further?

  3. Mark C R UK 26 July, 2007 at 9:58 am #

    Exactly Simon,

    The way it was reported in the “local newspaper” – gave no indication as to the form of the carbon when stored. A major stubbling block…..
    The three gentlemen all “had access to keys allowing access to the device” which only together allowed them to, and the article covered that “secrecy issue” largely – and how they were rejecting the “big offers” from the US/Asian auto-motives for one that kept the benefits of production of the device in Wales.

    That’s an issue – since you can’t artificially put boundaries on the technologies’ production (due to economics) and also since the development culture in the UK and EU is that! UK and EU orientated through the DTI and satellite organisations in the UK for example!

    It seemed very strange on that article being focused so much on confidentiality. If I were them (and they have the money) – simply hire a patent attorney and begin IP proceedings if they wish to protect their invention……….

    Even when it’s classed as “patent pending” so called C status and then get it to B (where the patent is being reviewed) it’s legally protected by the courts of each country patented in… the patent attorney / UK patent office can give advice on this subject.
    Plus doing this gives scientists and engineers a chance to take a look at the technology and see if it’s truly REALISTIC and viable.

    … plus this stops the real charlatans attaching the term “green” to technologies that are not, using the term as simply a marketing gimicks which I’ve noticed more and more happening…. which drives me mad since it undermines reputable people working on clean tech and viable Biofuel / Clean-Automotive technologies.

    *Note I’ve been chastised by being called a “charlatan”… even though I’m merely following a chemical synthesis philosophy called “Green Chemistry” that came about and has been developing in academia/industry since the 1991 Environmental Pollution Protection Act in the US………………………..

    In otherwords it’s not simply a salesman’s pitch!!!

  4. Mark C R UK 26 July, 2007 at 10:06 am #

    I’ve just had a thought too…. what about auto cat metal particulates contamination and recovery??

    Have these geezers thought about any other issues outside of the (interesting if it’s true) carbon capture?

    This is important say if we were to think about using it as a feedstock for fuel…..

  5. Biofuelsimon 26 July, 2007 at 10:38 am #

    Mark, One of the problems with getting a patent is that it gives your competition a chance to copy what you are doing and to find a way around the patent. There’s an example where not patenting an idea helped make the inventors lots of money. Computer keyboards.
    In the late 80s when the use of computers was taking off one of the most expensive components of a computer was the key pad. This is because each key had to be moulded in three parts and finished to ensure that the letter/number showed on the surface.
    The problem was solved by three people who invented ink diffusion printing, a process which is widely used to print into plastic today. They did not patent the invention. They charged for access to the keys and for demonstrations of the process. I believe they sold licenses to the process to a number of computer manufacturers.
    I was reporting on plastics at the time and keyboards were a big story.

  6. Mark C R UK 26 July, 2007 at 11:17 am #

    Agreed. I’ve trained with some of the people at the UK Patent Office on this very issue… although the Patent itself should contain everything needed to defend itself in court (the analogy is that “a patent is like a castle”).

    I’m thinking along the lines of “How do we stop some of the nefarious people making false claims on invention’s green credentials?”

    False scientific data/claims have hit academia in the past several years….

    I’m looking at it since I’ve spotted several – shall we say less than straight looking “Green” or “Clean” technology companies being publicised.

    Approach with caution is what I say in all cases and look for experience and proven track records.

    - In the GreenBox case one of the guys is a chemist (like me). If he’s a member of the RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry) and even better – chartered status – he has a code of professional conduct to follow from this professional body. Making dishonest claims would make him liable for disciplinary action from the professional body.

    If he does have professional memberships then this inspires a greater deal of confidence!….

  7. Biofuelsimon 26 July, 2007 at 4:00 pm #

    Ah yes, that must be why journalism is a craft trade and not a profession, we lack a professional body, but historically, we do train ourselves.

    It seems to me that the amount of snake oil being sold as biofuels or technology had dropped recently.

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