Depending on how it is calculated, the climate impact of air travel ranges from less than 1% to around 5%. But what is certain is that it is essentially the result offrom which powers the reactors of our planes. Because kerosene is produced by from and fossil. Its combustion emits (CO2), the main responsible for anthropogenic. For the time being, unfortunately, there is no clean alternative that makes it possible to consider maintaining long-haul flight traffic on a global scale.
For the time being… because scientists are far from admitting defeat in the field! Among the most promising avenues is the production of so-called solar fuels. The idea is to produce a synthetic fuel fromsolar. It is possible by photochemical way, by activating reactions thanks to which carry solar energy, or photobiologically, understand by artificial, for example. But also by thermochemical way.
It is this path that (ETH, Switzerland) chose to explore. They are now showcasing a fuel production system that they hope could help the aviation sector become carbon neutral. A solar tower that produces jet fuel from water and .
This tower is made up of 169 panels that follow the course of theby reflecting and concentrating the radiation towards a reactor located at the top. This energy then makes it possible to trigger cycles of reactions of on the porous oxide structure (CeO2) — a compound that is not consumed in the operation — to convert water and CO2 injected into the reactor as synthesis gas which will then be transformed into kerosene.
Efficiency that can be improved
Until now, such attempts had remained at the laboratory stage. This time, the researchers succeeded in demonstrating the feasibility of the entire chain on theirindustrial. From CO2water and from the sun, they are able to produce kerosene.
Kerosene? But then thethan before. Yes. But the solar tower developed by ETH researchers consumes as much CO2 that planes then emit. What finally make the fuel carbon neutral. A little more even when it can be produced from a CO2 captured directly in the .
The other advantage is that solar kerosene is completely compatible with existing infrastructures. Storage, distribution and usage infrastructures. If necessary, it can be mixed with original kerosene.
Only downside, finally, theof the solar tower. Today it is only about 4%. But the researchers already have ways to improve their design. They hope to increase it to 15%.