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Best from Waste? Scientists Devise Method to Convert Carbon Dioxide into Jet Fuel

Representational image.

Representational image.

The researchers carried out their experiment using low-cost iron catalysts. During their study, they first prepared the iron-manganese-potassium catalyst through the organic combustion method.

Climate change is one of the pressing problems facing the world. Every country is bearing the brunt of climate change in one way or the other. In order to tackle this problem, world leaders often share a stage to sign agreements and draw consensus on some necessary measures. Various organisations and scientists have also been working on ways to help become countries carbon neutral.

In a new breakthrough, a team of researchers from Oxford University has discovered a way to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into jet fuel, reported Wired. However, till now they have carried out the experiment within the four walls of a lab. If they manage to implement it in daily operations of airlines, then it will help reduce emissions by jets to net zero. "The infrastructure of hydrocarbon fuels is already there. This process could help relieve climate change and use the current carbon infrastructure for sustainable development,"Wired quoted Tiancun Xiao, a senior research fellow at Oxford's Department of Chemistry.

The researchers carried out their experiment using low-cost iron catalysts. During their study, they first prepared the iron-manganese-potassium catalyst through the organic combustion method. This catalyst helps turn carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons through hydrogenation. Basically, the CO2 extracted from air is used for conversion and later re-emitted from jet fuels during flight. Through this process, carbon neutrality could be achieved.

During the conversion process, important raw materials as by-products are produced. These raw materials can be used in petrochemical industry.

"However, some challenges are encountered while carrying out the experiment. Extraction of carbon from air is a cumbersome process. The activation of CO2 proves to be challenging. In this process, hydrocarbon synthesis through the hydrogenation of CO2 produces short-chain, whereas the long-chain is needed for the synthesis of aviation fuel."

"Scale-up is always an issue, and there are new surprises when you go to larger scales,Wired reported quoting Joshua Heyne, associate professor of mechanical and chemical engineering at the University of Dayton.

Joshua added that in the long-term, the idea of a circular carbon economy could prove to be useful.

Meanwhile, studies have already been going on for finding alternatives to traditional jet fuel. Some of the alternative fuels are prepared from municipal solid waste, straw, woody biomass, and even waste cooking oil.

As per the Paris climate deal, which was adopted in 2015 by leaders of more than 150 countries, the global warming should be limited to well below two, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.