Lando. Lando Calrissian. Cloud miner. Sounds like a great space opera profession, doesn’t it? But National Geographic is talking about exploiting the atmosphere for fuel:
…[S]cience has long known that it’s possible to recombine carbon from CO2 with hydrogen from water to make hydrocarbons—in other words, to make familiar fuels such as gasoline. The problem, ironically, has been that the process requires a lot of energy.
“You have all this CO2—it’s nasty stuff—what are you going to do with it?” asks Byron Elton, chief executive of Carbon Sciences, a Santa Barbara, California start-up. “People are saying, ‘Compress it, hide it.’ We’re saying, ‘No, give it to us and we can turn it back into gasoline.’ ”
[T]he focus of the “Sunshine to Petrol” project at U.S. DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California, has been on creating a high-efficiency chemical heat engine based on concentrated solar energy to power its process for making fuel.
“Hydrocarbon fuel has a lot of energy packed in,” says Ellen Stechel, who manages the Sandia project. “All the energy came from the sun, and must again come from the sun—just faster and with greater efficiency.”