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When flying you can choose to purchase carbon offsets. You pay a little extra money that goes to, for example, planting trees or building wind farms. But why? The aviation industry is trying really hard to find a way to make up for its global carbon footprint. Now there might be a solution to the problem. A team from Oxford University might have found an experimental process turning CO2 into jet fuel. If the experiment is successful, the project could result in “net-zero” emissions.
Right now the experiment has only been conducted in a laboratory and needs to be replicated at a larger scale. However, the chemical engineers who designed the process, called hydrocarbon fuel, are hopeful this will be a climate game-changer. Tiancun Xiao, a senior research fellow at Oxford’s Department of Chemistry and an author on the paper said to Wired:
“Climate change is accelerating, and we have huge carbon dioxide emissions. The infrastructure of hydrocarbon fuels is already there. This process could help relieve climate change and use the current carbon infrastructure for sustainable development.”
The CO2 in the experiment came from a canister in the lab. To adapt the concept to the real world the idea is to capture large amounts of greenhouse gas from factories or directly from the atmosphere. Wired wrote:
“Xiao foresees installing a jet fuel plant next to a steel or cement factory or a coal-burning power plant and capturing its excess carbon dioxide to make the fuel. The process could also involve sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, something called direct-air capture.”
Xiao and his colleagues believe this new method is cheaper and would use far less electricity than already existing methods like, for example, hydrogenization.
Experts not involved in the study affirm this method to be promising, once the process has been “scaled-up” and tested. Hopefully, this will be the solution the aviation industry has been waiting for. And yes, jet fuel made of CO2 is it possible!