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IPFS News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

Jet Fuel Could Someday Be Made From Carbon Dioxide--Here's How


In December of 2022, Mike Leskinen stood behind a podium holding up a screw-top jug filled with a clear liquid that looked for all the world like a batch of bathtub gin. Instead, the container held a solution that sounds like something from a sci-fi novel: liquid hydrocarbons created by combining nothing but water, solar power, and carbon dioxide pulled from the air.

The resulting fluid converts into different forms, from plastic to perfume to, most importantly, jet fuel.  

Leskinen, the president of United Airlines Ventures, had helped finance Dimensional Energy's pilot plant in Tucson, where that batch of hydrocarbons served as proof of a long-brewing concept.

"In 2016, I started looking at how aviation could meet its climate goals," Jason Salfi, Dimensional's CEO, told Robb Report. "It struck me that we'd spent 100 years burning hydrocarbons that now filled the atmosphere, but what if we made those hydrocarbons a source of energy? Instead of pumping it out of the ground, we could run our economy on carbon that's already above the ground."

In the time since, Dimensional has finalized its chemical process, run the pilot plant, built a larger test plant in Vancouver and started construction on its first commercial plant, in Niagara Falls, N.Y. That facility is scheduled to begin producing three million gallons of fuel a year starting in 2027. "It's all progressed very naturally," Salfi says. "We're an overnight success story . . . eight years in the making."

Before Dimensional and its competitors—Air Company, Infinium, and Twelve—emerged, the concept of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) had become a type of catchall solution for aviation's race to be carbon neutral by 2050. It is, in many ways, a myth.

At EBACE, business aviation's annual European conference in Geneva, a panel of experts yesterday discussed the pros and cons of SAF, a priority for both the E.U. and U.K. governments, but no clear path has been laid out. Fuel suppliers in the E.U. have a mandate under the ReFuelEU proposal that calls for blending SAF with conventional jet fuel that would increase from 2 percent in 2025 to 70 percent by 2050.