in Aerospace

OXCCU creates jet fuel from thin air

Posted 21 November 2023

Oxford based carbon-to-value company, OXCCU, which converts carbon dioxide and hydrogen into industrial and consumer products, has won a £2.8 million grant along with the University of Sheffield Translational Energy Research Centre (TERC) and Coryton, through the UK government’s Advanced Fuels Fund.

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The capital will be used to demonstrate the world’s first direct carbon dioxide (CO₂) hydrogenation process, turning CO₂ directly into aviation fuel range hydrocarbons, also known as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The project presents a novel approach to SAF production, directly converting CO₂ and hydrogen (H₂) to hydrocarbons - essentially creating jet fuel from thin air.

OXCCU technology means that this traditionally multistep process has been simplified to just a single step. A truly British innovation, the reactor will be located at the TERC and fed with biogenic CO₂ captured from biomass combustion and H₂ produced on site from electrolysis using green electricity. The fuel is then blended via Coryton to produce a fuel of Jet A-1 specification.

As part of its aim to cement the UK’s status as a world leader in SAF, last month the UK Government announced new measures to support the industry, with a revenue certainty scheme to boost uptake and help create jobs. The Government has committed to having at least five commercial SAF plants under construction in the UK by 2025, viewing low or zero emission technologies as key to sustainability and net zero targets.

Aviation still needs hydrocarbons but to achieve net zero, they need to be created without the use of fossil fuels. Traditional biofuels have well-known issues with scale due to limited feedstocks. In contrast, e-fuels or synthetic fuels based on CO2 have enormous potential to scale with fewer feedstock constraints but face challenges due to cost. OXCCU's patented technology consolidates the traditional e-hydrocarbons production process from two-steps, Reverse Water Gas Shift (RWGS) then Fischer-Tropsch, to a one-step direct hydrogenation process. This offers a radically cost-effective solution and opens up intriguing opportunities for the future of commercial aviation.

OXCCU CEO Andrew Symes said: “We’re proud to be part of the UK’s journey to cement itself as a leader in clean aviation and to help scale world-first technologies in sustainable aviation fuel. This new investment from the AFF will be a welcome contribution to our efforts to help the industry meet the high targets it has set.”

Available to customers as OXEFUEL, OXCCU’s sustainable aviation fuel is created by combining captured carbon dioxide and renewably-sourced green hydrogen through a novel iron-based catalyst, resulting in a more cost-effective and decarbonised alternative to fossil-based Jet A fuel for commercial airlines. Modelling completed by independent researchers from Imperial College London, through Imperial Consultants, has shown OXCCU’s one-step process significantly reduces SAF cost due to higher selectivity yield in the jet fuel range and a 50% lower capital cost.  

OXCCU is a climate tech spin-out company from the University of Oxford, developing novel catalysts and reactor designs to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen into hydrocarbons with high conversion and selectivity for use as fuels, chemicals and plastics. The company is headquartered in the UK, with operations at Begbroke Science Park, Oxford and London Oxford Airport.







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