Researchers Create Jet Fuel from Water, CO2 and Sunlight

First published: 2022
Edited: February 2023

Scientists Discover How to Create Jet Fuel from Inorganic Substances

Research carried out by a group of researchers in Switzerland has opened a new window of invention in the technological world. The research aimed to produce carbon-neutral aviation fuels using synthetic raw materials and solar technologies.

The process as published in Joule (an energy journal) employs a concentrated solar energy tower configuration to produce jet fuel from synthetic constituents comprising water (H2O) and Carbon (iv) Oxide (CO2).

Scientists create jet fuel from water, CO<sub>2</sub> and Sunlight

Jet engines are powered by kerosene which is mostly obtained through organic sources (fossil fuel). The kerosene so obtained from fossil fuel poses a serious challenge in that it causes high levels of carbon emission. Therefore, several types of research aiming at the production of high-quality and carbon-free fuel have been on the way for some time. However, most of the successes were only feasible at the laboratory level without a scale-up process for a large-scale industrial application.

This new technological success as reported by the researchers, fortunately, yields a very high-quality fuel (kerosene) for the aviation industry. The researchers also claim that the kerosene produced through this new technological process using water (H2O) and CO2 is ready for normal use in the aviation industry, both for flying the jet and for long-term storage.

In a press briefing, Aldo Steinfeld, coauthor of the journal stated, "With our solar technology, we have shown that we can produce synthetic kerosene from water and CO2 instead of deriving it from fossil fuels".

A jet flying in the sky

For years, jet fuel has been derived from organic sources like petroleum. The disadvantage here is that most fossil fuels are depleting in nature, hence, are referred to as nonrenewable energy. This implies that in times to come, the earth may run out of organic fuel from its sources as exploration continues.

Moreover, most organic (fossil) fuels are obtained through processes that pollute the ecosystem and the atmosphere; a major contributor to global warming and climate change. The use of fossil fuel also increase carbon emission into the atmosphere as stated earlier.

In recent times, countries have tried moves to move from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources like solar energy, and hydro energy among others. The aim of searching for alternative energy sources is not just to create renewable energy but the energy that is eco-friendly, affordable, and dependable. The new invention aims at mitigating this problem associated with the release of aviation fuel-related carbon into the atmosphere.

"The amount of CO2 emitted during kerosene combustion in a jet engine equals that consumed during its production in the solar plant. That makes the fuel carbon neutral, especially if we use CO2 captured directly from the air as an ingredient, hopefully in the not-too-distant future," Steinfield added.

The fuel so produced from water is faster and better when compared to other means of energy production. If this process is approved and applied in most industrial-scale fuel production, it would make fuel more affordable amidst the current hike in global energy costs.

In addition, water is an abundant resource over fossil fuel deposits. This means that it would be much easier to source for fuel through the new technology over other methods.

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