LARGE motor racing firms are being called upon to invest £4m in a pioneering firm which turns carbon dioxide and water from the air into fuel for high-speed cars.
Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS), which claims to be the first firm of its kind in the UK, is calling for investors to make it a world-leading facility for manufacturing carbon-neutral fuels.
The Stockton-based business aims to use motor sport competition to help rapidly produce a clean, renewable fuel that will eventually be used in consumer vehicles.
The motor racing sector is currently under pressure to improve its green credibility and the official Formula One motoring body, the FIA, already has a requirement that 5.75% of petrol used in racing cars must be a biofuel.
The high level of interest in motor sports could bring this technology to the attention of the public and hasten its acceptance in the new market.
Since it was built last year, the firm’s pioneering demonstrator facility has excited some high profile visitors including prominent environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, currently chairman of Forum for The Future. The demonstrator uses established technology to capture carbon from the air and oxygen from water to make fuel in a new way
AFS chief executive Peter Harrison called the business, in which £2m had already been invested, an “immediate” business opportunity for potential investors. He said: “We are ready to go to the next stage and make a small-scale containerised commercial unit that can be moveable between sites.
“We’re targeting the motor racing market because these vehicles tend to already require specialist fuels. Eventually, in a few years time the economics will be right for this fuel to go in every-day consumer cars but this depends on the oil and petrol price.”
“We already have a design for the unit and we’re looking to raise £4m in funding from commercial investors. Of course, this is a Great British innovation so government funding would also we welcome. When the money’s in place we can built a portable commercial plant within two years.
“At the moment there’s 10 of us working on this project part-time but we hope, once the commercial plant is in place, to create more jobs.”
The firm recently attracted seasoned wind energy developer David Still CBE to become chairman to replace company founder, Prof Tony Marmont.
Still, who has worked as a wind-energy developer for more than 26 years, has been a UK government advisor on renewable energy, worked with US turbine maker Clipper Windpower and developed the UK’s first offshore wind farm at Blyth, Northumberland.
Graham Truscott, who is responsible for investment marketing at AFS, said: “David Still is a very big figure in renewable energy and through contacts he came to meet us and liked what he saw. We chose to build the demonstration facility on Teesside because the North East is a big player in the renewable energy scene.”