On Monday, October 4, the German non-profit organization Atmosfair opened the world’s first commercial plant for the production of synthetic kerosene, an environmentally friendly alternative fuel.
According to one ABC News report when the plant opened, the aviation industry currently accounts for approximately 2.5 percent of global CO2 emissions and is struggling to keep pace with other industries that are focusing on electrification.
Synthetic kerosene increases emission reduction efforts
Synthetic kerosene is a type of electronic fuel that can help replace fossil fuels without requiring major structural changes to existing aircraft. “The era of burning coal, oil and natural gas is approaching,” German Environment Minister Svenya Schulze said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new plant. “At the same time, no one should sacrifice the dream of flying. That’s why we need alternatives to conventional, climate-damaging kerosene.”
The new facility, located in Werlte, Germany, uses water and electricity from four nearby wind farms to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen combines with carbon dioxide – part of it shot directly from the air – for the production of crude oil, which is then refined into jet fuel. The combustion of synthetic kerosene does not emit more CO2 into the atmosphere than was originally removed for the production of this fuel, which means that it is carbon neutral.
Proving the feasibility of electronic fuels
Companies such as the supersonic aircraft company Boom Supersonic have committed to launching their upcoming fleet of aircraft. 100 percent stable alternative fuels, while the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 this week.
Atmosfair’s new facility was built to demonstrate the economic and technological feasibility of synthetic kerosene. From next year, it will produce only eight barrels a day or 336 gallons of jet fuel, which means it will take three weeks to fill a small passenger plane. However, the organization will sell the electronic fuel to the German airline Lufthansa and everything that is planned, it hopes to increase its production in the coming years. Although synthetic kerosene will be more expensive than traditional aircraft fuel, Atmosfair believes it could lower the price and that rising fossil fuel prices due to carbon taxes will make e-fuel competition more intense. In the near future, wind farms and carbon capture technology can be combined to make air travel significantly more environmentally sustainable.