A solar tower fuel plant for the production of sustainable kerosene
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.