Until our transportation systems run entirely on battery-powered engines or hydrogen fuel, cleaner ways of producing fuel are absolutely necessary. In Zurich, scientists have developed a solar plant that produces synthetic fuels that release as much carbon dioxide during their combustion as previously extracted from the air for their production.
The system works by extracting carbon and water directly from ambient air and splits them using solar energy. This process yields syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which can be subsequently processed into other fuels. These fuels could then be used right away in the existing global transport infrastructure. According to the researchers, a solar plant a third the size of the Californian Mojave Desert could cover the kerosene needs of the entire aviation industry.
While we’re still a long way’s away from something like that becoming a reality, the point is this technology shows it is possible to produce fuel without producing more carbon.