A team of scientists at Oxford University has made jet fuel from carbon dioxide in the lab and there is some optimism that it could be commercialized. A report in Nature Communications said the team essentially reverse engineered the chemical reactions that turn fossil fuels into CO2, which is considered the most important greenhouse gas. “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 paper, told the publication. “The infrastructure of hydrocarbon fuels is already there. This process could help relieve climate change and use the current carbon infrastructure for sustainable development.”
The process does require a large amount of heat, which could come from renewable electricity. It involves heating citric acid, hydrogen, and a catalyst made of iron, manganese, and potassium and adding them to the carbon dioxide to produce liquid fuel. The Oxford team’s idea is to build the jet fuel plants at big producers of CO2 such as steel mills. One of the big advantages of the process is that the metals used as a catalyst to make the fuel are cheap and plentiful.