The future of transport

a large jet plane with the left jet engine in the foreground

The aviation industry accounts for 3% of the carbon generated globally. It is experiencing a growth where it is forecasted that by 2050, 18.6 to 26.1 million flights per year will take place in Europe. Such growth has significant implications to the environment, and one way to achieve reduction in emissions is by the production and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). The use of SAFs has the potential to reduce aviation emissions by at least 32% in 2050.

The work on SAFs here at the Translational Energy Research Centre is based on several years of expertise dealing with their production, use, and life cycle. Our research looks at the different methods we have for creating and decarbonising fuel, the types of fuels available and how they can be processed, made economically and environmentally viable and how they can be produced for commercial use.

For production, our facilities host two promising conversion routes for SAF production, i.e Power to Liquids (PtL) and Biomass to Liquids (BtL). In the PtL process CO2 along with H2 are converted to syngas in a Reverse Water Gas Shift (RWGS) reactor and subsequently syngas is converted to jet fuel in a Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactor while in the BtL biomass is gasified to produce syngas followed by conversion to jet fuel in the FT reactor.

Subsequent to the production of SAF, we can investigate combustion performance in a gas turbine engine as well as emission characteristics using a Honeywell 131_9 series Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). SAF fuel emission characteristics include particulate matter measurements and gaseous emission speciation.

Specific areas of interest

  • Biomass gasification and production of jet fuel via FT
  • Catalyst testing
  • Process and kinetic modelling
  • Fuel assessment for combustion performance
  • Particulate and gaseous emission measurements
  • Post-combustion carbon capture and utilisation of CO2 to produce jet fuel via RWGS and FT
  • Techno-economic and environmental assessments