Producing jet fuel without relying on fossil fuels would be a game-changer for the aviation industry. That’s what the US Air Force (USAF) aims at doing, using the carbon dioxide from the air to do so.
We are not talking about carbon capture or storage here, but about a revolutionary carbon transformation technology that sparked the USAF
’s attention last year, thanks to a company called Twelve, which launched a pilot program to demonstrate its proprietary technology.
The USAF endorsed the program, which entails converting CO2 into a feasible aviation fuel called E-Jet.
Now, one year later, Twelve succeeded in demonstrating its technology and produced the fuel this August. The company has now entered the next phase of the pilot project to create synthetic fuel in larger quantities. This phase will be completed in December 2021, with the results being further analyzed and assessed.
If the technology proves reliable for military application, the USAF could benefit a great deal from it, as the jet fuel
could be harvested from both the air and water, enabling the warfighter to safely access it from anywhere in the world.
Right now, transporting, storing, and delivering conventional aviation fuel poses a high risk for troops. A relevant example is the war in Afghanistan, where over 30 percent of the casualties come from attacks on fuel and water convoys. This is all the more upsetting, considering that fuel demand is only expected to increase. Logistic supply chains are one of the first things the enemy attacks, so reducing the fuel and logistics demand will be critical to avoid risk and win any potential war, as explained by Roberto Guerrero, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for operational energy.
By using Twelve’s solution, the USAF
could create fuel on-demand, freeing aviation from the petroleum supply chains. Unlike most synthetic fuels that need burning coal or natural gas to be produced, Twelve’s fuel can be produced without the need for fossil fuels. Instead, it captures carbon dioxide from the air and transforms it using just water and renewable power.