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A solar tower fuel plant for the production of sustainable kerosene

Solar tower plant

Emissions from the aviation sector could be avoided if aircraft were fueled with sustainably produced synthetic kerosene instead of petroleum-based aviation fuel. Researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), together with ETH Zurich, IMDEA Energy, Bauhaus Luftfahrt and industry partners, successfully demonstrated a solar-thermochemical process to produce synthetic kerosene from water and CO2 at a solar tower facility in Spain. In the process, 2500 times concentrated solar radiation heats a redox material inside a receiver reactor and drives a thermochemical reaction that splits water and CO2. The result is synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. In a downstream Fischer-Tropsch plant, this is turned into kerosene.

With an achieved efficiency of 4.1 percent for the conversion of solar energy into synthesis gas, the demonstration of the process is a technological milestone on the way to industrial production of sustainable aviation fuel.

In July 2022, the project participants published their results in the renowned journal JOULE.