Towards carbon-neutral flying with e-kerosene?

·2-min read
Atmosfair will open an e-kerosene production plant in Werlte (Germany) in 2022.

A first-ever industrial-scale e-kerosene plant will be built in Germany in 2022. Under the impetus of the Atmosfair NGO, the aim of this biofuel -- notably produced using water and air -- is to cut CO2 emissions from air traffic in half. However, production will be very limited and only tested on a few flights at first.

Intended for aviation, e-kerosene has the major advantage of burning in a CO2 neutral way, since it only emits from engines the quantity of CO2 previously extracted from the atmosphere to produce it. Indeed, it promises to be totally CO2 neutral.

However, while the use of e-kerosene may be carbon-neutral, an airplane flight will still have environmental repercussions. Atmosfair explains that flying leads to the formation of condensation trails and ozone at high altitude, which also have the effect of warming the climate. However, these effects will be partly mitigated by the use of e-kerosene. Overall, Atmosfair estimates that the use of 100% sustainable e-kerosene could reduce the climate impact of aviation by about half.

The Werlte plant will run completely on green electricity, from nearby wind turbines and solar panels. It will primarily use on-site air and water to produce hydrogen through electrolysis. To this end, the plant has an air capture module to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The resulting hydrogen will then be transformed into e-kerosene in a refinery in Heide. The fuel will then be tested on selected flights out of Hamburg airport.

Atmosfair is a German non-profit organization that promotes, develops and finances renewable energies in some 15 countries.

Other original solutions are also being studied around the world. In France, for example, Total recently developed a biofuel made, in part, with used cooking oil.

David Bénard

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