Scientists from the University of Oxford have converted carbon dioxide into carbon-neutral jet fuel. This cost-effective and efficient jet fuel production offers new hope for air flight passengers to jet off without the associated guilt of a hefty carbon footprint.
There have already been successful experiments in the past that attempts to turn carbon dioxide into jet fuel but it is expensive and required complex processes.
But this new research, published in the journal Nature, is a new method that is more efficient and cost-effective that could potentially eliminate high carbon emissions of air travel.
Researcher Benzhen Yao told Forbes that the team is excited to see the results and impact of their research to having a sustainable aviation fuel which hopefully will contribute significantly to sustainable fuel production processes.
A Decade of Experimenting On turning CO2 to Jet Fuel
According to Forbes, the Oxford team began studying the possibility of turning carbon dioxide into jet fuel over ten years ago. But it was not until this recent discovery that Yao and his team have finally realized their dream.
Chemistry professor and the leader of the project Peter Edwards said that the team is working with the aviation industry to develop the first zero-carbon emission aviation fuel demonstration plant. Yao believes that using carbon dioxide in realizing this dream is a bright idea that is not far from becoming possible.
Yao said that the process of converting carbon dioxide into carbon-neutral jet fuel is through capturing carbon dioxide from the air and convert it to hydrogen using hydrogenation and a catalyst that is made up of the compound of iron, manganese, and potassium.
"The smaller number of processes inevitably leads to higher efficiency and lower cost," Yao explained. The iron catalyst being used in the experiment were cheaper than the cobalt compounds that are used in other processes, a first of its kind.
Their process was able to produce specific hydrocarbons that can be used as jet fuel. The team said that the jet fuel produced is functionally identical to the jet fuels that the aviation industry is currently using.
In terms of the possible cost of the carbon-neutral jet fuel, Yao said that the team is working with the aviation industry on cost comparison. But the capital cost of their production is only half of the process of converting carbon dioxide to methanol and then to jet fuel.
Biofuel Use in the Production of Aviation Fuel
In the past few years, airlines are increasingly investing in the production and use of biofuels, which are synthetic low-carbon fuels that can be used in electric aviation technology. The Independent reported that the world's first hydrogen-electric passenger flight was completed in September last year.
It was a si-seater aircraft that performed a taxi, takeoff, and full pattern circuit before landing at an airfield in Cranfield, England. It is an airplane produced by ZeroAvia, which is the first-ever to produce a hydrogen fuel cell-powered flight on a commercial-grade aircraft.
Now, their retrofitted Piper M-class has become the largest aircraft powered by hydrogen.