German non-profit organization, Atmosfair unveiled on Monday, October 4, world’s first commercial plant for producing synthetic kerosene, which is an environmentally friendly alternative fuel.
Consistent with an ABC News report on this plant unveiling, aviation industry currently accounts for near about 2.5% of worldwide CO2 emission and it’s struggling to keep-up the pace with other industries that are turning to electrification.
Synthetic kerosene boosts emission cutting efforts
Synthetic kerosene is a kind of e-fuel that can help to replace fossil fuels without needing massive structural changes to existing aircraft. “The era of burning coal, oil & natural gas is drawing to a close,” Germany’s environment minister, Svenja Schulze said during ribbon cutting ceremony for the new plant. “At same time, no one should have to sacrifice the dream of flying. This is why, we need alternatives to conventional, climate harming kerosene.”
The new facility, located in Werlte, Germany, uses water & electricity from 4 nearby wind farms to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen is combined with carbon dioxide (CO2), some of it captured directly from air, to make crude oil, which is then refined into jet fuel. Burning synthetic kerosene releases no more CO2 into atmosphere than removed in the first place to produce that fuel, meaning it’s carbon neutral.
Proving feasibility of e-fuels
Companies like supersonic aircraft firm, Boom Supersonic, have committed to running their upcoming fleet of aircraft on 100% sustainable alternative fuels, while International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced a commitment this week to reach net-zero carbon-emission by 2050.
Atmosfair’s new facility was built to demonstrate economic & technological feasibility of synthetic kerosene. Starting next year, it’ll produce only 8 barrels a day or 336 gallons of jet fuel, meaning, it would take 3 weeks to fill one small passenger plane. However, organization will sell e-fuel to German airline, Lufthansa, and all going to plan, it hopes to scale its production in coming spans. Though synthetic kerosene will be more expensive than traditional jet fuel, to begin with, Atmosfair believes it can bring price-down and that rising fossil fuel prices because carbon taxes will increasingly make its e-fuel more competitive. In near future, wind farms, and carbon capture technology might combine to make air-travel vastly more sustainable for the environment.