The global emissions of greenhouse gases this year fell by a record 2.4 billion tons or 7% on the year. This was the largest drop in emissions since records began, and a large portion of the drop came from aviation, as the pandemic grounded planes, furloughed crews and forced airlines to beg governments for public taxpayers money to help them survive.
The recovery of the air travel industry is only a question of time—and vaccines. Air travel and air transport have become an inseparable part of modern life, and it is doubtful even a pandemic of the current proportions could put an end to it for good.
Large airlines are working on novel emission-free fuels for when that recovery comes, and they are also working on alternatives to the combustion engine for aircraft.
But these are technologies of the future. Combustion engines in aircraft will likely remain dominant for decades yet to come.
Air transport generated 915 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2019, according to data from the Air Transport Action Group, a Swiss-based industry organization.
Now, a team of scientists has found a way to reverse some of the damage by making jet fuel from carbon dioxide. And this CO2 could be out to good use.
The Oxford University team used a process called organic combustion to break down the carbon dioxide molecule into its constituents and convert these into new molecules, including liquid jet fuel, water, and some other compounds.
Economy is important in technologies seeking to make use of carbon dioxide—it means a technology is commercially viable. This is why carbon capture has been so slow in taking off and some doubt it ever will; carbon capture is a costly technology.
But if CO2 can be converted into jet fuel, this could eventually cut global oil demand by a pretty sizeable chunk since aviation accounts for a solid portion of total demand from the transportation sector.
However this process is in its early days. According to the paper by the Oxford University scientists, led by chemistry professor Peter Edwards, the portion of CO2 converted into jet fuel through the process they employed was 38%, representing 48% of the total products of this process.
Oil Price.com / ABC Flash Point Transportation News 2021.