OXCUU wins grant to turn CO2 into sustainable aviation fuel

OXCCU has won part of a £2.8 million grant 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.

A truly British innovation, OXCCU’s technology means that this traditionally multi-step process has been simplified to just a single step. The reactor will be located at the University of Sheffield Translational Energy Research Centre (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. 

To cement the UK’s status as a world leader in SAF, the UK Government has 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.

Says OXCCU CEO Andrew Symes:

“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 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 decarbonized 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.  

Chris Price