Converting CO2 to jet fuel? A new study says that is possible

As concerns about global warming grow, a new study says it is possible to turn carbon dioxide (CO2) – one of the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change – into aviation fuel.

In a study published in the journal “Nature Communicationson Tuesday, a team of researchers, including some from Oxford University, discovered that using a new, low-cost iron-based catalyst could transform it into hydrocarbons in a range of jet fuel. According to the study, by-products include light olefins, ethylene, propylene and butenes. Of these, ethylene and propylene can be used to produce plastics, according to ScienceNews. (RELATED: A 42-square-mile piece of ice broke off from a Greenland ice cap)

Researchers investigated “organic combustion method” uses for the production of jet fuel and by-products involved using catalysts with hydrogen, citric acid and carbon dioxide heated to 662 ° F. During the process in a pressurized chamber, carbon atoms are separated from oxygen atoms in CO2 molecules. The forcibly separated carbon atoms then bond to the hydrogen atoms, forming jet-containing hydrocarbon molecules, according to the study.

Past attempts to convert CO2 to fuel it reportedly depended on catalysts consisting of relatively expensive substances, such as cobalt. It also took a few processing steps. However, this research showed that the same effect can be achieved with relatively cheaper ingredients, ScienceNews reported.

The researchers also he said that this fuel converted from CO2 would be carbon neutral, because when it burns, it will release the same amount of CO2 that is used to create it.

If CO2 is used to produce aviation fuel, not oil, the aviation industry carbon dioxide would decrease, according to ScienceNews. Air travel currently generates up to 12% of all transportation-related CO2 emissions, the agency further reported.