Can carbon dioxide be converted to jet dioxide?

Aviation industry For the past decade, it has been looking for ways to reduce its global carbon footprint, such as purchasing high carbon-dioxide — such as tree-planting projects or wind farms — such as carbon by high-flying jets For emission of dioxide. At the same time, airports in San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles, along with a dozen in Europe, are fueling aircraft with greener alternative fuels to help them reach carbon-reduction targets.

Now a team at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom has come up with an experimental process that may be able to turn carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas emitted by all gas-burning engines – into jet fuel. If successful, the process, which uses an iron-based chemical reaction, may result in “net zero” emissions from the airplane.

The experiment, reported today in the journal Nature communication, Was conducted in a laboratory and should still be repeated extensively. But chemical engineers who designed and performed the process hoped that it could be a climate game-changer.

“Climate change is accelerating, and we have huge carbon dioxide emissions,” says Tianunkun Xiao, a senior research fellow at Oxford’s chemistry department and an author on the paper. “The structure of hydrocarbon fuel is already there. This process can help overcome climate change and use current carbon infrastructure for sustainable development. “

When fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas burn, their hydrocarbons turn into carbon dioxide, and water and energy are released. This experiment reverses the process of returning carbon dioxide to fuel using something called organic combustion method (OCM). By adding the heat (350 ° C, which is 662 ° F) of a catalyst made of iron, manganese and potassium from citric acid, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide, the team was able to produce liquid fuels that would operate in a jet. The experiment was carried out in a stainless steel reactor and produced only a few grams of material.

In the lab, carbon dioxide came from a canister. But the idea for adopting the concept for the real world would be to capture a large amount of greenhouse gas from the factory or directly from the air to remove it from the environment. Carbon dioxide is the most common of planet-warming greenhouse gases, and is produced from factories, cars, and wood burning, including wildfires and slash-and-water agriculture. Keeping it out of the atmosphere can help reduce global warming, although the world’s carbon emissions have been increasing for the past few decades and are on the way to warming the planet to 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Xiao and his colleagues say the new method will also be cheaper than existing methods that convert hydrogen and water into fuels, a process known as hydrogenation, mainly because it will use less electricity. Xiao hopes to set up a jet fuel plant next to a steel or cement factory or a coal-burning power plant, and capture its excess carbon dioxide to make fuel. This process may also involve the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, known as direct-air capture. The catalyst that does the trick is abundant on Earth, and it requires fewer steps than other methods of synthesis of high value-added chemicals, the authors say.

An expert who was not involved in the experiment says that the concept seems promising, as long as the authors can figure out how to make negative quantities of jet fuel in the laboratory to produce large quantities in a pilot plant Have to go. “It looks different, and it looks like it can work,” says Joshua Hayne, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering at the University of Dayton. “Scale-up is always an issue, and there are new surprises when it comes to scale. But in terms of a long-term solution, the idea of ​​a circular carbon economy is definitely something that could be the future.”


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