Royal Air Force’s First Flight Powered by Synthetic Fuel Wins Guinness World Record

A decade ago, the idea of aircraft running on fuel made from air and water might have seemed impossible, but a new world record proves that it’s actually a reality and one that will take the lead from now on. UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) has demonstrated a successful flight using only synthetic fuel.
The Ikarus C42 conducted the first flight using synthetic fuel 7 photos
Photo: UK Government
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There have been several successful demonstrations of alternative fuel-powered aircraft carried out this year by huge names in the aerospace industry, including Rolls-Royce, Bell, and Airbus. But RAF’s most recent test is the first one to officially be recognized as a Guinness World Record.

The flight took place earlier this month with an Ikarus C42 microlight aircraft powered by the synthetic UL91 fuel made by Zero Petroleum. According to the UK’s Ministry of Defense official statement, the flight was a short one, carried out at the Cotswold Airport.

The synthetic fuel didn’t require any modifications of the engine or the aircraft itself. All prior tests showed that the engine performed just as well as with conventional fuel. In fact, the engine ran at a lower temperature when using synthetic combustible, so the team running the test concluded that using this liquid instead also benefits the engine’s lifespan.

Zero Petroleum developed the fuel in just five months, based on hydrogen extracted from water and carbon from CO2 in the atmosphere. Then, using clean energy from renewable sources, like wind power and solar power, these two were converted into synthetic fuel.

Unlike SAF (sustainable aviation fuel), which is obtained from various types of waste, like biomass or cooking oil, this synthetic fuel is produced with only water, air, and renewable energy.

RAF officials declared that this is just the first step in a series of innovations, with the goal of becoming net-zero by 2040. “The way we power our aircraft will be a big part of achieving that goal,” said Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, KCB CBE ADC Chief of the Air Staff. Even before that, RAF intends to inaugurate the first net-zero airbase in just four years from now.

This world record-winning flight was part of RAF’s project MARTIN, aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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