The dream of producing hydrocarbon fuels from carbon dioxide and sunlight is one step closer thanks to chemists in Europe who have made jet fuel from scratch in a solar reactor for the first time. Although the chemists only produced enough kerosene to fill a glass jar, they believe a full-scale solar concentrator could produce 20,000 litres of jet fuel a day.
‘This technology means we might one day produce cleaner and plentiful fuel for planes, cars and other forms of transport,’ said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European commissioner for research, innovation and science. ‘This could greatly increase energy security and turn one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for global warming into a useful resource.’
The idea of extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into fuel is simple enough. At high temperatures carbon dioxide and water dissociate into hydrogen, carbon monoxide and oxygen. The hydrogen and carbon monoxide mixture, known as synthesis gas or ‘syngas’, can then be converted into liquid hydrocarbons such as petrol or kerosene via the well-established Fischer–Tropsch process, which was invented by the chemists Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch in Germany in the mid 1920s. More here ‘Solar’ jet fuel made out of thin air