Oxford Scientists Discover Way To Make Plane Fuel Out Of Carbon Dioxide
A team of scientists from Oxford University have found a way to make plane fuel out of carbon dioxide, in what has been described as a ‘significant social advance’.
Jet fuel is currently created using oil extracted from the ground, and as a result aviation is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Aviation Environmental Federation, aviation represents around 10% of total CO2 in the UK, with the number only set to increase as air traffic continues to rise across the globe.
As well as releasing CO2, aircraft also release NOx, soot and water vapour, resulting in a net warming effect that roughly doubles the total global warming impact of aviation compared to CO2 alone.
According to Science News, previous attempts to convert carbon dioxide into fuel have relied on catalysts made of relatively expensive materials.
However, the team at Oxford University managed to capture CO2 from the air and convert it into fuel using cheap iron catalysts. The process negates the need to extract oil from the ground, in turn making it carbon neutral.
The researchers, led by Professor Peter Edwards, managed to convert the highly stable CO2 back into fuel by using a chemical reaction powered by an iron-based catalyst at low temperatures and adding hydrogen.
Writing in the journal Nature Communications, the team expressed the belief that the process could ‘mitigate carbon dioxide emissions but also to produce renewable and sustainable jet fuel’.
Edwards discussed the breakthrough with the Mail Online, saying it could put Britain at the forefront of a revolutionary new green industry.
This is a really exciting, potentially revolutionary advance, the most important advance in my four decade career.
Though the research is still in its initial stages, Edwards said it could be scaled up in two to three years to create large quantities of jet fuel.
The scientist continued:
Our vision is that the world can see that captured CO2 can be used as energy carrier to enable sustainable aviation.
With government support this would provide the stimulus to grow a new UK synthetic aviation fuel manufacturing industry. This advance offers post – Brexit Britain a chance to lead the world in climate change, boost our science base and enhance our reputation.
These scientific advances must now lead to break-through technology and innovation. We mustn’t miss this opportunity.
Edwards explained the team are in discussions with UK industries to set up a pilot plant demonstration using the newfound method.
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