Turning CO2 Into Jet Fuel? A New Study Says It’s Possible


Andrew Jose Contributor
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As concerns about global warming grow, a new study says it’s possible to turn carbon dioxide (CO2) — one of the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change — into aircraft fuel.

In a study published in the journal “Nature Communicationson Tuesday, a team of researchers including some from Oxford University discovered that by using a new, inexpensive iron-based catalyst, CO2 could be transformed into hydrocarbons in the aviation jet fuel range. Byproducts include light olefins, ethylene, propylene and butenes, according to the study. Out of these, ethylene and propylene can be used to make plastics, according to ScienceNews(RELATED: 42-Square-Mile Ice Chunk Breaks Off From Greenland Ice Cap)

The “organic combustion method” the researchers used for generating jet fuel and the byproducts involved using the catalyst with hydrogen, citric acid and carbon dioxide heated to 662°F. During the process in a pressurized chamber, carbon atoms get pulled apart from oxygen atoms in CO2 molecules. The forced apart carbon atoms then bond with hydrogen atoms, creating hydrocarbon molecules that comprise jet fuel, according to the study.

Past attempts to convert CO2 into fuel reportedly depended on catalysts composed of comparatively expensive substances, like cobalt. They also required several processing steps. However, this study demonstrated that the same effect is attainable with relatively cheaper ingredients, ScienceNews reported.

The researchers also said that this fuel converted from CO2 would be carbon-neutral because when burned, it will release the same amount of CO2 used to create it. 

If CO2 and not oil were used to manufacture jet fuel, the aviation industry’s carbon footprint would decrease, according to ScienceNews. Air travel currently generates up to 12% of all transportation-related CO2 emissions, the outlet further reported.