US Air Force Studies Use of Carbon Dioxide To Create Fossil-Free Jet Fuel

Source: US Air Force, Master Sgt. Joey Swafford

The US Air Force is working with the carbon transformation company, Twelve to study the feasibility of a process to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into a viable, fossil-free jet fuel called E-Jet.

Twelve – in partnership with Emerging Fuels Technology – uses a new electrochemical reactor and proprietary catalyst that electrifies CO2 and water, which creates synthesis gas, CO + H2, which is then refined into carbon neutral jet fuel. E-Jet offers a drop-in replacement for petrochemical-based alternatives without any changes to existing plane design or commercial regulations. 

The US Air Force currently relies on conventional fuels to operate, requiring a combination of trucks, aircraft, and ships to ensure fuel is delivered to meet warfighter demand. Twelve’s carbon transformation process could allow deployed units to create synthetic fuel on-demand without the need for highly skilled fuel experts on site. The Air Force claims that the production of aircraft fuel from the air could be highly sustainable, deployable, and scalable. The Air Force envisions using the technology to provide a supplemental source to petroleum-based fuels to decrease demand in areas that are typically difficult to provide with fuel.

Twelve worked in partnership with the Air Force’s Operational Energy office through a joint contract with AFWERX, a program office at the Air Force Research Laboratory, and SBIR, the Small Business Innovation Research program. It successfully demonstrated its technology earlier this year and has now entered the next phase of the pilot project to create synthetic fuel in larger quantities. This phase will be completed in December 2021, with the results being further analyzed and assessed.