Using CO2 to Make Fuel: A Long Shot for Green Energy (2023)

What if the ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide that are heating up the atmosphere could be used to produce an abundant supply of liquid fuels? The U.S. government and private labs are pursuing that Holy Grail of renewable energy — but for now the cost of large-scale production is prohibitive.

By DavidBiello May19,2011

A novel experiment is taking place in the Princeton University lab of chemist Andrew Bocarsly. Like a battery, the experimental device has two poles of charged materials resting in a bath of chemical-laced water. A small tube bubbles carbon dioxide into the device, called a cell. The CO2 interacts with the charged metal coating one of the poles and, with the help of a special catalyst, begins to form bigger molecules that combine carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms.

These bigger molecules have a more common name: hydrocarbons, the molecules that make up the fuels that power the modern world — coal, natural gas and oil. And what Bocarsly and his colleagues have done is essentially reverse combustion: they have taken the byproduct of burning fossil fuels — CO2, the greenhouse gas most responsible for climate change — and transformed it back into a fuel suitable for burning.

“The dominant thinking 10 years ago was that we should bury the CO2,” Bocarsly says. “If you could efficiently convert CO2 into something that was useful you wouldn’t have to spend all that money and energy to put it into the ground. You could sort of recycle it.”

Using CO2 to Make Fuel: A Long Shot for Green Energy (1)

Princeton University

Princeton’s Andrew Bocarsly has developed a method to convert CO2 into a fuel suitable for burning.

The experiment in Bocarsly’s lab is part of an intensifying research effort to transform the copious energy from sunlight into liquid fuels by improving upon the work of plants, which, using only energy from the sun, take CO2, fuse it with hydrogen split from water, and make molecules to fuel growth. These ambitious energy projects would recycle CO2 emissions by allowing CO2 molecules to switch back and forth between byproducts of burning and building blocks of new fuel. It’s a potentially revolutionary technology, and the problem is not so much in pulling off the transformation — at least four different approaches to carry out “reverse combustion” either exist commercially or have been demonstrated in laboratories — but the high cost of doing so.

“Since the sun provides enough energy for our needs, our goal is to make a fuel using CO2 and sunlight — and maybe water — as feedstocks to produce the chemical fuel that can store the sun’s energy in a form that we can use where and when we need,” writes chemist Michael Berman of the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, which is funding much of the research. “We hope that this is something that can be done in an economically viable way.”

Attaining that goal remains a distant prospect. But the potential payoff of these long-shot experiments is potentially so great that the U.S. government, various labs, and some start-up companies are pumping sizeable amounts of money into the research. The technologies include producing methanol in a lab, harnessing microbes found in extreme environments to produce fuels, replicating the process of photosynthesis itself, and using sunlight to forge a synthetic fuel made of hydrogen and carbon monoxide.

Creating liquid light

In 2003, chemist Emily Barton took up a discarded experimental device that had been languishing in her mentor’s Princeton lab for more than a decade. She was searching for a novel solution to the growing problem of CO2 piling up in the atmosphere and changing the climate. The device — an electrochemical cell that transforms electricity into chemical reactions, or vice versa — employed an electrode made from the silvery white metal known as palladium and a catalyst called pyridinium, a byproduct of oil refining. When Barton’s predecessor and inventor of the device — Lin Chao — applied an electric current, the cell knitted CO2 into methanol, the simplest hydrocarbon.

When Chao had written about the device in 1994, it was largely ignored. But Barton reasoned that turning CO2 back into a useful product like methanol could provide a solution to the CO2 problem. Even better, she could tweak the device by adding a compound used for thin-film photovoltaic devices — gallium phosphide — and turn the cell into a solar-powered fuel maker.

Although this photovoltaic route is currently prohibitively expensive, venture capitalists have funded a start-up company — dubbed Liquid Light and based in New Jersey — to try to turn this electrochemical cell into the fuel refinery of the future. The company has replaced the expensive palladium electrode in the original with something cheaper and may not use pyridinium as the catalyst. “The only inputs we need are waste CO2, water and electricity,” says Liquid Light chairman and physicist Nety Krishna, noting the technology’s potential to simultaneously help solve two huge challenges — global warming and satisfying the world’s growing energy needs.

Tapping into ‘extremophiles’

From the various branches of the military to the Department of Energy, the U.S. government has a keen interest in alternatives to oil. In fact, the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-e) has created a program exclusively devoted to producing fuels from CO2.

“For every dollar the price of a barrel of oil goes up, the Navy spends $31 million more for fuel” per year, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told an ARPA—e conference in March when announcing the military’s new collaborative effort with the fledgling energy agency. “Changing the way we produce and use energy is fundamentally about improving the national security of this country.”

Scientists are attempting to create electrofuels by using extremophiles — microbes that thrive in extreme environments.

The ARPA—e program for turning energy inputs into liquid fuel goes by the name of “electrofuels.” The scientists funded by the program attempt to create these electrofuels by harnessing the wonders of extremophiles — microbes that thrive in extreme environments, such as hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean — to convert CO2 into fuels, using either electricity, hydrogen, or even ammonia.

That’s because extremophiles, unlike the vast majority of known life on the planet, make their living without photosynthesis. In fact, in the depths of the ocean, certain microbes rely on the energy in chemicals spewing from volcanic vents, while their extremophile peers more than mile underneath the planet’s surface rely on the slow decay of radioactive elements in the planet’s crust to thrive.

“We have bugs that go all the way,” making fuels from various energy inputs plus CO2, says chemist Eric Toone, deputy director for technology for ARPA—e and the electrofuels program manager. “I know it’s going to quote-unquote work. The interesting question now is: Is it going to matter?” The electrofuels program will only succeed in reducing the world’s oil addiction if it can produce fuels at a cost of roughly $60 per barrel — a price it is nowhere near achieving given the cost of electricity, hydrogen, and ammonia. “You’ve got to make this fuel at such a massive scale and such a low price,” Toone notes.

Another challenge is that the bugs themselves are not necessarily happy with the program. E. coli, Ralstonia eutropha, and the great microbial groupings of Pyrococcus and Rhodobacter, all want to use the extra energy to grow, not to make fuels. To force them to do so requires complex genetic and metabolic manipulation to ensure that as much energy as possible goes into fuel production.

Replicating photosynthesis

Researchers working outside the biological realm do not face the same constraints as a fuel-making microbiologist, or even a leaf. So the U.S. Department of Energy has hedged its ARPA—e bet by also investing in the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) at the California Institute of Technology. The goal there is to build a system that works as well as photosynthesis in plants to produce fuel, whether hydrocarbons or just hydrogen.

“Chemical fuels would be the game-changer if you could directly make them efficiently and cost-effectively from sunlight,” says chemist Nathan Lewis, JCAP director.

Artificial systems can move energy as electrical current rather than the relatively chunky molecules that plants must rely upon in photosynthesis. In fact, an artificial system that uses photovoltaic panels to produce electricity, which is then used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, can turn roughly 10 to 20 percent of incoming sunlight into the hydrogen gas that can fuel a hydrogen fuel cell. The most efficient photosynthetic plants — algae — only manage to turn roughly 3 to 6 percent of incoming sunlight into plant food.

So Lewis and his colleagues will have to build artificial light absorbers, molecule-makers, and even membranes to separate the various products of artificial photosynthesis, just as plants do. All of these components exist but do not necessarily work well together as a system. Within the next five years, JCAP hopes to prove that such a system can be created, and produce some fuel to prove it.

MIT’s Nocera predicts that enough energy to run a house could come from one drinking water bottle and sunlight.

Such a system has long been known by another name: the hydrogen economy. That hydrogen can be recombined with oxygen in a fuel cell to produce the electricity to drive an electric car or power a home. The problem with the hydrogen economy has always been the second word — the best hydrogen fuel cells rely on expensive platinum, and splitting water relies on expensive machinery. The most expensive cars on the planet are probably the hydrogen fuel cell test vehicles built by the likes of GM and Honda.

But a company called Sun Catalytix is attempting to make at least splitting water cheap, and thereby provide an inexpensive source of the hydrogen for fuel cells or to make hydrocarbons with CO2. Dropping the metal cobalt and the molecule phosphate into water as a catalyst and then running electricity through it — preferably supplied by the sun via a photovoltaic cell — can split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Chemist Dan Nocera of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose team created the new catalyst — an invention somewhat erroneously hailed as an “artificial leaf” — predicts enough energy to run a house could be derived from one drinking water bottle in less than four hours of sunlight.

If hydrogen becomes cheap, then suddenly programs like electrofuels begin to make a lot more fiscal sense. “If you’ve got something you can drop in water and it evolves hydrogen, that’s pretty damn cool,” says Toone, which is why ARPA—e is also funding Sun Catalytix’s work. “We’ve seen the data and it actually works.”

Building a hydrocarbon

In the New Mexican desert, a six-meter wide dish of mirrors concentrates the sun’s rays on a half-meter-long cylindrical machine shaped like a beer keg. The mirrors focus sunlight through a window in the machine’s side, bathing a dozen, concentric rings in the sun’s heat. Temperatures quickly reach 1,500 degrees Celsius, which drives oxygen out of teeth made of iron oxide (rust) before the teeth rotate back into the dark side of the reactor. There the teeth suck oxygen back out of introduced steam or CO2, leaving behind hydrogen or carbon monoxide. When enough H2 and CO are produced, the mixture forms a very basic fuel known as synthesis gas, which is the building block used by the chemical industry to make hydrocarbons, chemicals, and even plastics.

Using CO2 to Make Fuel: A Long Shot for Green Energy (2)

Sandia National Laboratory

Scientists at Sandia National Laboratory have developed a dish of mirrors that concentrates sunlight on a solar-fuel generator.

Think of this keg-like machine as high-temperature, high-speed reverse rusting — and the expensive parts are not the inputs of CO2 or water, but rather the expense of the mirrors to harness the sun’s heat. “The real feedstocks are not CO2 and water, it’s sunlight,” says chemist James E. Miller of Sandia National Laboratory, co-inventor of the device. “Even though sunlight is free, what costs you most is collecting it and converting it into a useable form.”

Other groups are working on different designs or different materials, but the Sandia team in New Mexico estimates that it could make diesel or jet fuel for roughly $10 per gallon. There is another problem, however, one common to all such efforts to reverse combustion: To replace the more than 20 million barrels of oil consumed each day in the U.S. would require 62.4 trillion moles of pure CO2 per year. “If we go to a scale that is meaningful, where does the carbon come from?” Toone asks. “Learning how to recycle carbon is going to be important.”

Coal plants offer one source, producing roughly 500 pounds of CO2 per second when burning enough coal to generate one gigawatt of electricity, but that still isn’t enough to make a dent in transportation fuel use. Sucking CO2 out of the air remains prohibitively expensive, according to a recent report from the American Physical Society. But pulling CO2 out of seawater, where it is more highly concentrated, might offer one solution, as well as helping remedy the other peril from rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere: ocean acidification.

Regardless, the first stirrings of a shift away from fossil fuels have started to show. The Princeton lab that gave birth to Liquid Light is now making butanol, the smallest molecule considered a hydrocarbon fuel, via the same process the lab used to make methanol. “We are making that unambiguously,” Bocarsly says. But “we’re in the early stages of understanding this.”


How do you turn CO2 into fuel? ›

The transformation begins when CO2 is broken down into oxygen and CO, the latter of which can be combined with hydrogen to make a variety of hydrocarbon fuels. Adding four hydrogen atoms, for example, creates methanol, a liquid fuel that can power cars.

Can you burn CO2 for energy? ›

Once carbon has been combined with oxygen you can't add any more oxygen to the carbon -- in other words, carbon dioxide doesn't burn. In fact, carbon dioxide is often used in fire extinguishers precisely because it does not burn and can smother a fire.

Why is CO2 not used as fuel? ›

Maximum oxidation state of carbon is +4 and cannot be oxidised beyond this. Carbon already possesses +4 oxidation state in CO2.

What is renewable fuel from CO2? ›

NASA has developed a new technology that can convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (C02) into fuel by using solar-powered, thin-film devices. Metal oxide thin films are fabricated to produce a photoelectrochemical cell that is powered by solar energy.

Can CO2 power cars? ›

Carbon Engineering (CE), a Canadian clean-energy firm, says it can use carbon dioxide sucked from the atmosphere to make fuels that work in vehicles that are already on the road.

What company makes fuel from CO2? ›

Most SAF is made out of carbon from organic vegetable oils, but Twelve, a chemical technology company based in Berkeley, California, is making fuel out of carbon dioxide.

Can CO2 be turned into gasoline? ›

Captured CO2 can be turned into carbon-neutral fuels, but technological advances are needed. In new research, a new catalyst increased the production of long-chain hydrocarbons in chemical reactions by some 1,000 times over existing methods.

Can CO2 be converted into natural gas? ›

The researchers developed a new copper- and iron-based catalyst that uses light to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) to methane, the primary component of natural gas.

Can CO2 convert to electricity? ›

Inside those rings, CO₂, nitrogen and water circulate separately to draw heat from below ground up to the surface, where the heat can be used to turn turbines and generate electricity.

Can CO2 be turned back into fuel in reverse combustion? ›

Because burning fuels in an internal combustion engine produces CO2 and water as its byproducts, the idea of reverse combustion has been hanging around the halls of science for a long, long time. That is, recombining CO2 and water back into an energy carrier — a fuel.

What happens when you mix CO2 and hydrogen? ›

Previous efforts to convert CO2 to fuel involved a two-step process. The first step reduces CO2 to carbon monoxide, then the second combines the CO with hydrogen to make hydrocarbon fuels. The simplest of these fuels is methane, but other fuels that can be produced include ethane, propane and butane.

Why is CO2 greenhouse gas bad? ›

Carbon dioxide is a problem because it acts as a "greenhouse gas." Due to its molecular structure, CO2 absorbs and emits infrared radiation, warming the Earth's surface and the lower levels of the atmosphere.

Is CO2 a good fuel molecule? ›

The carbon in CO2 enables the conversion of hydrogen into a fuel that is easier to handle and use, for example as an aviation fuel. CO2 can also replace fossil fuels as a raw material in chemicals and polymers.

Is CO2 really a greenhouse gas? ›

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important heat-trapping gas, or greenhouse gas, that comes from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas), from wildfires, and from natural processes like volcanic eruptions.

Is CO2 a byproduct of burning fossil fuels? ›

When fossil fuels are burned, they release large amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the air. Greenhouse gases trap heat in our atmosphere, causing global warming.

Which fuel would produce the largest mass of CO2? ›

How much carbon dioxide is produced when different fuels are burned?
Coal (anthracite)228.6
Coal (subbituminous)214.3
Diesel fuel and heating oil161.3
Gasoline (without ethanol)157.2
3 more rows

What is the best alternative fuel for vehicles? ›

  • Hydrogen. Hydrogen is a potentially emissions-free alternative fuel that can be produced from domestic resources for use in fuel cell vehicles.
  • Natural Gas. Natural gas is a domestically abundant fuel that can have significant cost advantages over gasoline and diesel fuels.
  • Propane.

How fast can a CO2 car go? ›

They're super quick, on a (20-metre) track, the cars can cross the finish line in just over a second, travelling at a top speed of around 90 kilometers per hour. The CO2 dragster may be small, but it's going to be moving at incredible speeds when you race it.

Which vehicles emit the most CO2? ›

This data is sourced from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Road travel accounts for three-quarters of transport emissions. Most of this comes from passenger vehicles – cars and buses – which contribute 45.1%. The other 29.4% comes from trucks carrying freight.

Can you inflate a car tire with CO2? ›

CO2 inflators are an extremely convenient way to inflate tyres, if speed of operation is the most important factor. A small metal canister contains compressed carbon dioxide gas that expands to fill your tyre when the top is punctured.

Which country is now the main source of CO2? ›

China is, by a significant margin, Asia's and the world's largest emitter: it emits nearly 10 billion tonnes each year, more than one-quarter of global emissions. North America – dominated by the USA – is the second largest regional emitter at 18% of global emissions. It's followed closely by Europe with 17%.

Can you sell captured CO2? ›

Facilities using carbon capture usually can't sell large amounts of CO2 in commercial markets—but in the U.S., thanks to tax credits, they can get $85 a ton for burying it.

How much CO2 is in a gallon of gasoline? ›

Every gallon of gasoline burned creates about 8,887 grams of CO2.

How much CO2 is produced to make a gallon of gasoline? ›

Burning 6.3 pounds of gasoline produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.

What is the most efficient liquid fuel? ›

In combination with an oxidizer such as liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen yields the highest specific impulse, or efficiency in relation to the amount of propellant consumed, of any known rocket propellant.

How much does it cost to convert CO2 to fuel? ›

Previous estimates have put the cost at between US$500 to $1,000 per metric ton, but in a new research paper based on three years of data from a pilot plant, the CE team shows how it could be done for between $94 and $232 per metric ton.

What is the cheapest way to generate CO2? ›

1. Slow-release CO2. This is by far the easiest and lowest cost method. You simply hang slow-release CO2 bags or bottles in your grow room.

Which material can turn CO2 into liquid fuel? ›

1 Answer. The explanation is: Graphene quantum dots can recycle waste CO2 to fuel.

How much CO2 is used to produce electricity? ›

How much of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are associated with electricity generation? In 2022, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by the U.S. electric power sector were 1,539 million metric tons (MMmt), or about 31% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions of about 4,964 (MMmt).

Can we turn CO2 into coal? ›

New technique can efficiently convert CO2 from gas into solid particles of carbon. Summary: Scientists have harnessed liquid metals to turn carbon dioxide back into solid coal, in research that offers an alternative pathway for safely and permanently removing the greenhouse gas from our atmosphere.

What can captured CO2 be used for? ›

Captured carbon dioxide can be put to productive use in enhanced oil recovery and the manufacture of fuels, building materials, and more, or be stored in underground geologic formations.

Can CO2 be captured and reused? ›

It still has to be captured and extracted from industrial smokes, but instead of being stored underground it will be re-used in new chemical, industrial or biological applications. CO2 reuse does not replace storage, as depending on the applications it could eventually return into the atmosphere after it has been used.

What is one way to put carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere? ›

Carbon is released back into the atmosphere when organisms die, volcanoes erupt, fires blaze, fossil fuels are burned, and through a variety of other mechanisms.

What happens when we burn CO2? ›

When carbon burns in the air, it reacts with the oxygen present in the air to form Carbon dioxide, and a large amount of heat and some light are released. It is an example of a combustion reaction. Combustion is a process in which a substance burns in the presence of oxygen, giving off heat and light.

What happens if you put CO2 and water? ›

When carbon dioxide reacts with water, carbonic acid is formed, from which hydrogen ions dissociate, increasing the acidity of the system. Therefore, in addition to any greenhouse effect, anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere can increase the acidity of the atmosphere and precipitation.

Does CO2 react with anything? ›

Carbon dioxide dissolves in water and slowly reacts with water to produce carbonic acid. The cloudy white solution observed when CO2 is bubbled into limewater results from a reaction between Ca(OH)2 and either CO2 or H2CO3 to form an insoluble calcium carbonate precipitate.

How do you make methane from CO2? ›

"To recycle carbon dioxide into methane, an established industrial method involves the reaction of hydrogen and carbon dioxide using a ruthenium-based catalyst at temperatures of 300 to 400 degrees Celsius, but this method limited how much and when methane could be produced since it requires such high temperature," ...

What greenhouse gas is worse than CO2? ›

Methane is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Over the last two centuries, methane concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled, largely due to human-related activities.

Will the Earth melt few years from now? ›

Four billion years from now, the increase in Earth's surface temperature will cause a runaway greenhouse effect, creating conditions more extreme than present-day Venus and heating Earth's surface enough to melt it. By that point, all life on Earth will be extinct.

Which greenhouse gas is the most destructive Why? ›

Carbon dioxide is widely reported as the most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas because it currently accounts for the greatest portion of the warming associated with human activities.

Why can't we use CO2 as a fuel? ›

Efforts to convert carbon dioxide into fuels or other products have been largely unsuccessful. It's predicted that such processes could make a major dent in greenhouse gas emissions. Now, researchers at MIT have identified, quantified and modelled a major reason for poor performance in such conversion systems.

When did CO2 become a problem? ›

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (blue line) has increased along with human emissions (gray line) since the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1750.

How long does CO2 stay in the atmosphere? ›

Once it's added to the atmosphere, it hangs around, for a long time: between 300 to 1,000 years. Thus, as humans change the atmosphere by emitting carbon dioxide, those changes will endure on the timescale of many human lives.

Is CO2 or methane a worse greenhouse gas? ›

Methane has a much shorter atmospheric lifetime than CO2 (around 12 years compared with centuries for CO2), but it is a much more potent greenhouse gas, absorbing much more energy while it exists in the atmosphere.

Is the sun not CO2 to blame for global warming? ›

No. The Sun can influence Earth's climate, but it isn't responsible for the warming trend we've seen over recent decades. The Sun is a giver of life; it helps keep the planet warm enough for us to survive.

What fuels are made from CO2? ›

The carbon in CO2 can be used to produce fuels that are in use today, including methane, methanol, gasoline and aviation fuels.

How does CO2 affect human health? ›

Exposure to CO2 can produce a variety of health effects. These may include headaches, dizziness, restlessness, a tingling or pins or needles feeling, difficulty breathing, sweating, tiredness, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, coma, asphyxia, and convulsions.

Which fuels produces the most CO2 in society today? ›

Coal is the dominant CO2 emissions source related to electricity generation.

What is the biggest use of CO2? ›

Fuels show the greatest potential for CO2 use by volume, while building materials have the greatest potential to deliver climate benefits per tonne of CO2 used.

How do we recycle CO2? ›

By adding electricity, water, and a variety of catalysts, scientists can reduce CO2 into short molecules such as carbon monoxide and methane, which they can then combine to form more complex hydrocarbon fuels like butane.

Which fuel is most environmentally friendly? ›

CNG or compressed natural gas is a smoke-free gas and does not spread pollution, and thus used in our vehicles. Therefore, CNG is considered as an eco-friendly fuel.

What fuel can replace gasoline? ›

Ethanol is a renewable alcohol-based fuel made by fermenting and distilling low-cost, low-maintenance starch crops, such as corn, sugar cane and wheat grown for energy production. Ethanol is the most widely available source of gasoline substitute, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

What are the cons of a CO2 dragster? ›

The thinner the rail, the greater chance of structural failure (breaking). – Exterior wheels are bad for aerodynamics. – Body shape tends to encourage drag and hamper good aerodynamics.

How far do CO2 cars race? ›

CO2 dragsters are cars used as miniature racing cars which are propelled by a carbon dioxide cartridge, pierced to start the release of the gas, and which race on a typically 60 feet (18 metres) track.

Is there a car that runs off of CO2? ›

The all-electric Zero Emission Mobility (ZEM) car uses carbon capture technology to absorb CO2 as it drives.

Is a car better than a plane for CO2? ›

So, if you're traveling with three or more people, driving is the better option, and here's why: Three people on the cross-country flight would account for 1.86 tons of carbon emissions (0.62 tons of CO2 x 3), compared to the total 1.26 tons of carbon the vehicle would produce (ignoring that the extra weight would ...

Is it better to fill tires with CO2 or air? ›

No. 1: The Time Factor – CO2 inflators are time-saving, because they fill up your tire much faster than air pumps. When you have a flat tire, a CO2 inflator can refill the tire and get you going in just a few minutes.

How many CO2 cartridges does it take to fill up a tire? ›

How much CO2 does one cartridge dispense? It depends on the size of the tire. For example, for a standard ATV tire, one 16 gram cartridge can fill a fully flat tire to 3 psi. For a standard dirt bike tire, one 16 gram cartridge can fill a fully flat tire to about 15 psi.

Who is the biggest CO2 polluter in the world? ›

China was the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions in 2021, accounting for nearly 31 percent of the global emissions.
Distribution of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide in 2021, by select country.
CharacteristicShare of CO₂ emissions
12 more rows
Feb 6, 2023

What is the largest CO2 producer in the US? ›

Transportation (28% of 2021 greenhouse gas emissions) – The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes.

Which 2 countries produce the most carbon dioxide emissions in the world? ›

  • Which Countries Have Produced the Most Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions? The countries that have produced the most carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 1750 have been the United States, China, Russia, Germany, the U.S., and Japan. ...
  • What Is the Main Source of CO2 Emissions? ...
  • Why Are China's Emissions So High?

Which 3 countries are the largest energy emitters of CO2? ›

China, the United States, and India are three of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2), accounting for nearly half of all emissions.

How much is CO2 credit worth? ›

This price is determined by the carbon credit market, which comprises companies and investors who buy and sell carbon credits. The price fluctuates depending on demand and supply but generally ranges from $40 to $80 per metric ton.

How effective is CO2 capture? ›

CCS projects typically target 90 percent efficiency, meaning that 90 percent of the carbon dioxide from the power plant will be captured and stored.

How much CO2 does it take to produce a gallon of gas? ›

Gasoline is about 87% carbon and 13% hydrogen by weight. So the carbon in a gallon of gasoline (weighing 6.3 pounds) weighs 5.5 pounds (. 87 x 6.3 pounds = 5.5 pounds). So, multiply the weight of the carbon times 3.7, which equals 20 pounds of carbon dioxide!

How much CO2 does it take to produce 1 liter of gasoline? ›

What do I need to know? Burning 1 L of gasoline produces approximately 2.3 kg of CO2.

How many pounds of CO2 does it take to burn a gallon of diesel? ›

About 22.38 pounds of CO2 are produced by burning a gallon of diesel fuel.

How many pounds of carbon dioxide does a car produce per gallon? ›

Burning one gallon of gasoline creates about 20 pounds of CO2—which means the average vehicle creates roughly 6 to 9 tons of CO2 each year.

What is the cheapest way to produce CO2? ›

Slow-release CO2

This is by far the easiest and lowest cost method. You simply hang slow-release CO2 bags or bottles in your grow room. Carbon dioxide is slowly released over time.

Is CO2 is a Green House gas? ›

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important heat-trapping gas, or greenhouse gas, that comes from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas), from wildfires, and from natural processes like volcanic eruptions.

How many pounds of CO2 are produced by burning 1 gallon of jet fuel? ›

Aviation gas emits 18.3 pounds (lb) and jet fuel 21.1 lb of CO2 per gallon combusted, and flying one mile on average emits 53 pounds of CO2. It directly contributes to climate change and has various negative environmental effects.

How much is a pound of CO2? ›

At standard pressure and 15 °C (59 °F) the density of carbon dioxide gas is 1.87 kg/m3 (0.1167 lb/ft3). One pound (454 grams) of carbon dioxide gas occupies 0.2426 m3 (8.566 ft3, 64 US gallons, 243 liters).

How many trees does it take to offset 1 ton of CO2? ›

In summary, it can be concluded that the annual CO2 offsetting rate varies from 21.77 kg CO2/tree to 31.5 kg CO2/tree. To compensate 1 tonne of CO2, 31 to 46 trees are needed.

How much energy does it take to produce 1 liter of gasoline? ›

One litre of gasoline contains the energy equivalent to 8.9 kWh of electricity.

How bad are gas cars for the environment? ›

Vehicle pollutants harm our health and contain greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Burning gasoline and diesel fuel creates harmful byproducts like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, benzene, and formaldehyde. In addition, vehicles emit carbon dioxide, the most common human-caused greenhouse gas.

Can captured CO2 be reused? ›

It still has to be captured and extracted from industrial smokes, but instead of being stored underground it will be re-used in new chemical, industrial or biological applications. CO2 reuse does not replace storage, as depending on the applications it could eventually return into the atmosphere after it has been used.

Can we turn CO2 back into coal? ›

A New Form of Carbon Capture: Turning CO2 Back Into Coal at Room Temperature. Electricity and a liquid metal catalyst can be used to turn carbon dioxide back into solid coal.


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