Zero Petroleum’s synthetic, non-biological, fossil-free fuels which use atmospheric carbon dioxide and hydrogen represent an “extraordinary” advance in pursuit of sustainable propulsion, the company’s founder and CEO Paddy Lowe has said.

At the Farnborough International Airshow, Zero Petroleum announced the next stage of its partnership with the Royal Air Force, with a new contract to scale up the fuel technology.

Synthetic petroleum is manufactured from hydrogen and carbon dioxide in a chemical process which reverses the oxidation and energy release that occurs during the combustion of any hydrocarbon material.

Zero Petroleum calls this process petrosynthesis – an industrial version of the natural process that has taken up to 600 million years to create the fossil fuels we currently consume.

‘It’s actually magical’

Lowe said: “It’s actually magical. We’re all so hardwired to the idea that petroleum and all the fuels under that, jet fuel particularly, come from underground, that’s how we grew up. It’s built into our DNA. It is chemistry, at the end of the day, and chemistry itself is magical.

“The very distinct thing here is this is an industrially made fuel. And it’s made literally from the air, and I know that sounds extraordinary, but to bring reality back, if you burn the fuel in your jet engine or in a petrol engine, what comes out of that? Carbon dioxide … and water.

“So what do we do to make fuel, we’re simply gathering up those same things, those same molecules and reconstituting it back to the original fuel. So actually, the idea of making it from thin air is not extraordinary when I explain it like that.”

Drop fuel solution

Also at the airshow was John Rowley, technical director at CFS Aeroproducts. He said: “It’s a drop-in fuel solution. There is zero loss of performance. It maintains power and torque, and there is no modifications to the engine whatsoever.”

Ant Fenner, Wing Cmdr, RAF, added: “We’ve set the goal of net zero by 2040, which we must do to adapt to future operating environments.

“The RAF will take a holistic approach to that. I’m delighted to be part of the team that’s looking to address emissions from aircraft.”

Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter