A group of researchers from the University of Oxford found a way to capture carbon in the air and turn it into jet fuel with a system they built.
Oxford University researchers reported in an article published in Nature that a new iron-based catalyst converts carbon dioxide into jet fuel.
Carbon emissions are among the biggest global problems. With many studies around the world, researchers are striving to reduce these emission values. Aircraft cannot carry batteries large enough to run on electricity from wind or solar to reduce carbon emissions, but if carbon dioxide is used to make jet fuel, this can help reduce the carbon footprint of the air travel industry. The aviation industry accounts for 12% of all transport-related carbon dioxide emissions.
Using carbon dioxide as fuel for jet engines
In the past, attempts to convert carbon dioxide to fuel relied on catalysts made from relatively expensive materials such as cobalt and required multiple chemical treatment steps. The new catalyst contains an inexpensive material such as powdered iron and converts carbon dioxide in a single step.
Oxford University researchers tested their new catalyst on carbon dioxide in a small reaction chamber set at 300 ° C and pressurized to about 10 times sea level air pressure. The catalyst converted 38% of the carbon dioxide in the room into new chemical products in over 20 hours. About 48% of these products were jet fueled hydrocarbons. Other by-products included petrochemicals that could be used to make plastics.
“Climate change is accelerating and we have massive emissions of carbon dioxide. Infrastructure for hydrocarbon fuels is already in place. This process can help mitigate climate change and use existing carbon infrastructure for sustainable development,” said Tiancun Xiao, senior research fellow at Oxford Chemistry Department. said.
Of course, more time is needed to be able to use carbon dioxide as fuel in jet engines. For now, everything is in the laboratory phase. The research team states that their next goal is to take this work out of the laboratory and integrate it into the aviation industry.