Scientists Have Created A Plant that Can Make Carbon-Neutral Liquid Fuels from Sunshine and Air

Scientists in Switzerland claim that sunshine and air can produce aircraft fuel. Engineers are evaluating if this form of fuel production works in the real world.

Carbon-neutral fuels are essential for sustainable aviation and shipping

Carbon-neutral liquid fuels may be produced from sunlight and air by scientists at ETH Zurich. The next step is to use this technology on a large scale in industry in order to make it competitive. Researchers from Zurich and Potsdam have released a study in Nature that explains how this new solar reactor works and proposes a legislative framework that would encourage the production of “solar kerosene.”

Aviation and marine transportation can’t function without low- or no-carbon fuels. Synthetic liquid fuels may be produced in Zurich using a plant that emits the same amount of CO2 after burning as it did during extraction from the air. When CO2 and water are taken out of the atmosphere, solar energy is used to break them down. A combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, known as syngas, is produced as a byproduct of this process.

Mini solar refinery on ETH Zurich’s Machine Laboratory building has been running for the past two years, directed by Professor Aldo Steinfeld of the ETH Zurich’s Renewable Energy Sources Department. “Solar and ambient air are converted into drop-in fuels at this facility, which shows that the thermochemical process can be done effectively on a large scale. Using real-world solar circumstances, the system is stable and offers a unique platform for future study and development “according to Steinfeld. Now that the technology has matured, it is ready for usage in industrial settings.

Solar-rich desert areas are ideal for manufacturing

Industrial production of the gasoline would cost between 1.20 and 2 euros per liter. Solar-rich desert areas are ideal for manufacturing. A professor of energy policy at the University of Potsdam and a researcher at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS Potsdam) explains that unlike biofuels, which have limited potential due to the scarcity of agricultural land, this technology allows us to meet global demand for jet fuel by using less than one percent of the world’s arid land and would not compete with the production of food or livestock feed.

Governmental assistance is needed in order to gain access into the market

Solar fuels, on the other hand, will need governmental assistance in order to gain access into the market. “In order to encourage the market for solar fuels, the EU’s current assistance tools — carbon trading and offsetting — fall short. A European technology-specific fuel quota system is proposed in light of this. In order to meet this goal, aviation fuel would have to come from solar sources “Lilliestam explains this.

In the early stages of market acceptance, when the price of “solar kerosene” is high and manufacturing capacity is limited, the study’s authors advocate a 0.1 percent share. Flight costs would not be affected, but the establishment of manufacturing facilities and a learning curve that may lead to reduced pricing would be encouraged.

Steinfeld claims that the technology is now ready to be used in the real world. Even though carbon-neutral kerosene is more costly to make than conventional, polluting kerosene, it will need money to get there. To assist minimize the quantity of carbon dioxide emissions that come from flying and shipping, a worldwide effort has been made to implement this method.


Drop-in Fuels from Sunlight and Air Remo Schäppi, David Rutz, Fabian Dähler, Alexander Muroyama, Philipp Haueter, Johan Lilliestam-

Published by ExoticVibe

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