Jet fuel is a large driver of climate change but finding sustainable alternatives has proven difficult since many are less efficient when it comes to long-distance aviation. This is why scientists are hopeful about a new jet fuel that uses air, sunlight and water vapor to make a solar-based, carbon-neutral kerosene (the fuel preferred in aviation). Scientists positioned 169 sun-tracking mirrors that reflect radiation into a solar reactor that sits atop a 15-meter tower. The reactor features windows that let light in and a supply of carbon dioxide, water vapor and porous ceria (a material used to catalyze chemical reactions). When the solar radiation is heated, the ceria reacts with water vapor and carbon dioxide to create syngas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide) that is piped into the tower where it’s converted into kerosene. In nine days, the tower was able to convert 4% of solar energy into 5,191 liters of syngas. Though the technology is still being developed, this fuel is already a crucial step in the quest to create sustainable travel. Learn more about it at Science News.
Image courtesy of Imedea Energy