Solar Jet Fuel Has Been Created For The First Time

Solar jet fuel has been created for the first time

Maybe we won't suck up all of Earth's resources and destroy our planet just yet. Scientists say that they have created solar jet fuel using just sunlight, water and carbon dioxide for the very first time. That's basically creating fuel from thin air.

It's a damn impressive feat and puts us closer to the dream of creating renewable energy for our Earth-sucking moving boxes known as planes, cars and other transportation vehicles. European scientists have done this by using simulated, concentrated sunlight at a temperature of over 700°C to convert and separate water and carbon dioxide into a synthetic gas made of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. That synthetic gas can be turned into kerosene.

The scientists, who've been working at this for four years under the SOLAR-JET project, have only made a jar of the solar jet fuel so far but they imagine a future where 20,000L of jet fuel could be made per day from a full-scale version.

If they're able to do that, cars, planes, and other vehicles will have much cleaner and endless amounts of fuel.

Solar jet fuel has been created for the first time
Solar jet fuel has been created for the first time

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    Isn't this the same thing that was on James May's tv show years and years ago (more than 4 years ago)?

    They can make Hydrogen using artificial photosynthesis now, so add this new way to make jet fuel and improved solar cells for electricity and maybe we won't kill ourselves off after all...! :)

      The photosyntesis method produces almost irrelevant quantities at last count.

        Dude, it's in its infancy, the point is that they now have a handle on it, and they will make strides from here, give it a chance...!

        also last i read
        the method described here needs something like 200,000 square km area of sunlight to produce an adequate amount of fuel

        So not very high efficiency

    time for these scientists to mysteriously go missing along with their research... thanks to the petro-industry kings!

    Why not just separate the Hydrogen and Oxygen and then burn those rather then adding carbon into the mix and making Kerosene? My thought is that is you are adding carbon then you will be releasing carbon during the combustion process but if you just burn pure Hydrogen and Oxygen then you will just get water.

      bwmerlin, it would be great if we could just separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the problem is it takes a lot of energy to do, more than you get back by burning the hydrogen and oxygen that is produced.

      You're missing the point... Doing it this way means it uses sunlight to produce, splitting water into Hydrogen and Oxygen takes large quantities of electricity to produce.
      Yes you get a different end product but it means you are getting something from a renewable source rather than just converting un-renewable energy (until we have mass quantities of renewable power to input for splitting water).

      Last edited 05/05/14 7:50 am

    It's still zero emission. More importantly, a significant number of engines already use kerosene-based fuels, so this can be used without much - if any - retrofitting. Running on hydrogen + oxygen would require completely new engines.

    Last edited 04/05/14 8:43 pm

      isnt kerosene the stuff you buy from hardware stores? you can power jets with it?

        Jet fuel is pretty much kerosene, so yes. You can even run turbine engines with diesel. It's not a standard practice but it's definitely possible.

        The stuff you buy from hardware stores is seriously diluted to make it more stable. Jet fuel (aka AvGas) on the other hand is a very pure form of kerosene. If you put AvGas into your bamboo torch it would kinda explode

          so if a plane crashes on an island and i need to make a bamboo torch fire. I can use jet fuel?

          Wats the dilution ratio? 1 parts jet fuel 10000 parts water? =)

    I think the issue with pure H2 is that it's quite volatile and difficult to handle on a day to day basis. Adding carbon to it and making kerosene makes it much more stable and easier to handle.

    Still using water though..... Which we need to drink...

    Since any CO2 you use in this process is CO2 that *isn't* dumped into the air, the carbon is essentially sequestered in the fuel. After it's burnt, you do get CO2 in the air, but it's CO2 that was going to be dumped anyway; basically the process is carbon-neutral.

    The main advantage of this process compared to straight hydrogen is that hydrocarbons are much, much easier to store than pressurised hydrogen. Keeping a pressurised vessel full of highly flammable gas in your vehicle is not exactly conducive to safety.

    It's also worth mentioning that water vapour is a greenhouse gas, although it is one that obviously leaves the atmosphere relatively readily. However, consider the effects of a street full of cars pumping out water vapour in peak hour...

    If they’re able to do that, cars, planes, and other vehicles will have much cleaner and endless amounts of fuel.

    No we wont. We've had many alternatives for our current fuels for a while now, but does the government really want to see all electric, water-powered or solar powered cars? No, because they're pocking massive amounts of tax from petrol powered cars.

    So now we have solar jet fuel, biodiesel, solar power that's actually effective and fuel from salt water thanks to the US navy. Is it just me or have we finally hit the point where all the super powerful oil and coal barons have realised their number is up and are finally not hindering sustainable fuel?

      Wait till we start fielding fusion reactors like the ITER in France (assuming it works and doesn't melt the entire plant down when it's turned on). Power of the Sun in a Box.

    Sure it's a great fuel - but just wait until the world runs short of soda water! Will be happy to go without our soft drinks just to power our cars?

    Is this process a net energy producer? None of the articles I saw mentioned how much energy is required to gather the CO2 and the O2 in order to make this whole process work. Nor was there a statement of how much solar collector area is required per litre (or kg) of fuel produced.

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