A new startup is partnering with steel companies, electric companies and manufacturing plants. A new startup is partnering with steel companies, electric companies and manufacturing plants. A new startup is partnering with steel companies, electric companies and manufacturing plants. (Photo: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock)

How a business is turning greenhouse gases into fuel

When environmentalism and enterprise work as a team, magical things happen.

A lot of people think of environmentalism and economics as a kind of tradeoff, since alternative energies are supposedly expensive (not necessarily true), and cleaning up the atmosphere costs money.

But CO2Fuels, an Israel-based startup, is changing that. They're taking carbon dioxide – which has been steadily increasing in the atmosphere – and turning it into fuel, which they sell. Talk about killing (saving?) two birds with one machine. It's great for the planet and the proverbial pocketbook.

"It’s a very large opportunity that isn’t just a business opportunity but can serve the larger needs of climate change," NewCO2Fuels CEO and founder David Banitt told From the Grapevine.

A professor at the Weizmann Institute, a research university near Tel Aviv, Israel, came up with the idea in 2005 after hearing about a plan to capture CO2 in the air and bury it. The professor worked out a way to turn the captured CO2 into fuel.

"If you have all the energy to capture it, why not do something useful with it?" said Banitt.

The company's machines take CO2 from the atmosphere and combine it with water to produce a substance that can be turned into various fuels and chemicals, such as gasoline, diesel, plastic and fertilizer. Since CO2 is free, this product is quite cost-effective. Plus, oxygen is the only "waste product," which is pretty good news for the planet.

If that doesn't sound amazing enough yet, get this: to get the energy for their process, they're planning on using leftover, unused heat that's actually formed as a byproduct in glass and steel factories.

"It’s a real breakthrough," explained Banitt. "And the market is tremendous."

The company is currently in the development phase and has successfully acquired funding from Australian philanthropists and green-tech companies.

Banitt hopes that, someday, his technology will be powered by solar panels, and fossil fuels will be a thing of the past.

"That’s the vision," he said. "And yes, it can change the world."

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