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‘Solar’ jet fuel made out of thin air

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 16.29.29Extract from a Chemistry World article by Jon Cartwright published 2 May 2014

The dream of producing hydrocarbon fuels from carbon dioxide and sunlight is one step closer thanks to chemists in Europe who have made jet fuel from scratch in a solar reactor for the first time. Although the chemists only produced enough kerosene to fill a glass jar, they believe a full-scale solar concentrator could produce 20,000 litres of jet fuel a day.

Various methods have been tried to effectively remove oxygen from syngas, but the one settled on by the Solar-Jet team was the use of cerium oxide, or ceria.

The benefit of using ceria is that the oxygen and syngas are produced at different steps and can, therefore, be collected separately, enabling the syngas to be fed straight into the Fischer–Tropsch process. This was performed onsite by Shell, a collaborator on the Solar-Jet project and one of several oil and gas companies developing Fischer–Tropsch for the production of kerosene from syngas.

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