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Quest for Fire

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Quest for Fire

Rob McGinnis aims to use renewable energy to turn carbon dioxide and water into gasoline


5 min read
3 take-aways
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What's inside?

An engineering entrepreneur wants to make a gasoline substitute from air and water.

Editorial Rating



  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening
  • Hot Topic


Carbon dioxide and water, both found in abundance in Earth’s environment, contain all the elements needed to make fossil-fuel-free gasoline. Over the years innovators have tried different approaches to get them to react in the right way, but all require large energy inputs. This Science article describes how, with the help of a proprietary nanotube filter and renewable energy, chemical engineer Rob McGinnis aims to turn the dream into a reality. It could be useful to anyone interested in reducing the price of gasoline, dependence on fossil fuels and the carbon footprint of transportation.


Researchers are developing technology to turn air and water into gasoline.

Chemical engineer Rob McGinnis and his start-up, Prometheus, are developing a process to synthesize a non-fossil-fuel-based gasoline from air, water and energy.

The process, which could reduce dependence on fossil fuels, the carbon footprint of transportation and the cost of vehicle fuel, uses a copper catalyst plus electricity to turn carbon dioxide and water into alcohols. Then, a nanotube filter McGinnis developed separates the water...

About the Author

Robert F. Service is a science journalist specializing in materials science and chemistry.

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