One of the major concerns of the 21st century is finding efficient ways to lower humanity’s carbon footprint and combat climate change. Lowering the CO2 emissions of airplanes is one of the projects that scientists and researchers have been working on. A new, iron-based catalyst could make it possible for airplanes to generate jet fuel from the carbon dioxide sucked from the atmosphere!
Lowering the Aviation Industry Carbon Footprint
The airplanes that are used today release a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is a climate-warming gas that greatly increases the issue of climate change. The aviation industry is responsible for around 12 percent of these emissions and any effort to lower that can be valuable.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible for airplanes to accommodate batteries large enough to provide sufficient electrical power generated by the wind or solar power to sustain flight. The new CO2 to jet fuel converter could be an efficient solution!
How the Jet Fuel Catalyst Works
At the University of Oxford, a chemist named Tiancun Xiao alongside colleagues tested the new catalyst in a small reaction chamber. Under 572°F and air pressure about ten times stronger than that at sea level, the catalyst converted about 38% of the carbon dioxide into other chemical products. Nearly half of the carbon products were jet fuel hydrocarbons.
What the catalyst does is help the carbon molecules separate from the oxygen molecules and combine with the hydrogen molecules placed in the chamber. This creates hydrocarbon molecules. The leftover oxygen combines with hydrogen to make water.
The Advantage of the New Catalyst Over Older Models
The catalysts made in the past used more expensive materials like cobalt and the process of CO2 conversion took several steps. The more affordable iron-based catalyst achieves the conversion faster and in a single step. This discovery could lead to a great decrease in greenhouse gas pollution from the aviation industry.