The possibility of developing renewable energy fuels is a flashpoint for the energy sector. Depletion of fossil fuels has created mammoth challenges for several industries including electric, chemicals, and oil and gas. Professor Aldo Steinfeld from ETH Zurich proposed a solution to convert CO2 and water to renewable transportation fuels. The solution is based on the use of concentrated sunlight to effectuate a reaction between water and CO2. If proven viable, the method could save large sums of money for the energy sector.
The European Union (EU) and Swiss organizations are funding this project. The experiments have already had some success in conversion of water and carbon dioxide to renewable fuel. Researchers have completed the first round of synthesis for solar kerosene. The technology, known as SUN-to-LIQUID, has been tested under real-field conditions. Furthermore, industrial implementation of the SUN-to-LIQUID technology is also under analysis.
Relevance of the Transport Industry
The transport industry is amongst the largest consumers of fossil fuels. Hence, the new technology could facilitate renewable energy usage across this industry. Further, experts predict that the shipping sector will first adopt the SUN-to-LIGHT technology. Long-haul aviation aircrafts also rely on hydrocarbon fuels, and they can be replaced with renewable transportation fuels. The researchers believe that this technology takes them a step closer to reducing global reliance on fossil fuels.
Roadmap to Development of Renewable Fuel
A SOLAR-JET project, also funded by the EU, preceded the development of SOLAR-to-LIQUID technology. The former pioneered the development of solar jet fuels in a laboratory.
The SOLAR-to-LIQUID technology goes a notch up to test solar-based energy conversions. Further, one can test with the help of a solar tower developed at Spain’s IMDEA Energy Institute. As a result, other research organizations in Europe are drawing inspiration from the new findings.