Monday, December 1, 2008

Essential Knowledge: Jet Fuel and other Hydrocarbons

Yesterday I posted on Carbon Sciences' approach for turning CO2 into useful fuels, including jet fuel. While I was on their site, I noticed some good, nuts-and-bolts details I missed when I passed up Organic Chemistry in college: "The fuels we use today, such as gasoline and jet fuel, are made up of chains of hydrogen and carbon atoms aptly called hydrocarbons." Duh. On low end of the scale, you've got molecules (familiar gases) with only a few carbon atoms:
  • C1 (one carbon atom fuel - methane)
  • C2 (two carbon atom fuel - ethane) 
  • C3 (three carbon atom fuel - propane)
Banging more carbon atoms into these molecules gets you more energetic fuels:
  • C7-C10 (gasoline) 
  • C10-C16 (jet fuel/JP8)
And when the carbon combines with air during combustion, you get a C02 molecule for every carbon atom ... hence the problem with fossil fuel emissions ... and the potential of Carbon Sciences' approach.

Photo of F-22 inflight refueling: DOE EERE

No comments: