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Oxford Researchers Turn CO2 Into Jet Fuel

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Reinvesting carbon into the fuel of tomorrow.

I doubt I have to explain this, but vehicles of all kinds tend to produce a lot of carbon emissions. In other news, ice is cold. Cars, boats, jets, and any other fuel-burning vehicles expel carbon dioxide that is harmful to the ozone layer. Problem is, we need our fuel, and green energy isn’t quite there yet. What if, then, we could use all of that extraneous carbon as a fuel in itself?

According to a report from Wired, a team of Oxford University scientists have successfully reverse-engineered CO2 into a viable jet fuel. If this fuel could be utilized on a commercial jet, that’d mean net-zero carbon emissions for one of the largest producers of the stuff. It’s a big deal, to say the least.

The process is actually surprisingly straightforward. The team mixed citric acid, hydrogen, and an iron-manganese-potassium catalyst to create an activating agent. When combined with CO2, it transforms into liquid fuel. Compared to the money and processes that go into creating something like hydrogen fuel, this process is much simpler and costs peanuts.

“Climate change is accelerating, and we have huge carbon dioxide emissions,” Tiancun Xiao, a senior research fellow at Oxford’s Department of Chemistry and an author on the study, told Wired. “The infrastructure of hydrocarbon fuels is already there. This process could help relieve climate change and use the current carbon infrastructure for sustainable development.”

There’s still a lot of work to be done to make this process economically viable; the team was only able to create a few grams of fuel in their labs, but the science is there, and they’re on the right track. If they can make this work, this carbon fuel could serve as an excellent intermediate point between fossil fuels and green power to keep carbon emissions down until something better comes along.