Is the first fossil-free jet fuel made from CO2 viable? The US Air Force thinks so


Berkeley, California-based carbon transformation company Twelve and Tulsa-based Emerging Fuels Technology (EFT) today announced that they have produced the first fossil-free jet fuel from carbon dioxide using an electrochemical process. The project received funding from the US Air Force.

The new biofuel, which is called E-Jet, can be used by both commercial and military aviation.

Biofuels are notoriously expensive. But where many processes have proven the ability to yield 65% of jet fuel from initial feedstock, EFT says its process yields more than 80%. EFT has also signed a licensing agreement with Norwegian company Nordic Electrofuel, which also makes fossil-replacement fuels.

Twelve and EFT state that fossil-free jet fuel E-Jet is a drop-in replacement for petrochemical-based alternatives, and no changes are required to existing plane design or commercial regulations.  

Twelve summarizes how E-Jet is made on its website:

E-Jet is made with our carbon transformation technology, a new electrochemical reactor and proprietary catalyst that electrifies CO2 and water, which creates synthesis gas, CO + H2, which we then refine into carbon neutral jet fuel.

E-Jet is drop-in ready and certified, with the same quality and performance, but has over 90% lower lifecycle emissions. That’s because we source the carbon in our fuel from the air, not the ground — and, because it has fewer contaminants than petroleum-based fuels, it burns cleaner.

In summer 2021, the US Air Force tested and qualified our E-Jet product.

Twelve and EFT worked in partnership with the US Air Force’s Operational Energy office through a joint contract with AFWERX, a program office at the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Small  Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. 

Roberto Guerrero, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Operational Energy, said:

One of our main goals with this project was to create a clean jet fuel that enhances security and energy independence without sacrificing operational readiness. The successful completion of the project proves that efficiency and environmental responsibility are not mutually exclusive.

Read more: US airlines boost their 2030 target for sustainable aviation fuel by 50%

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Photo: Twelve

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