Flight is the most energy-intensive type of mobility: resulting emissions lead to considerable climate damage. According to experts, a use of alternative propulsion technologies that make do without hydrocarbon-based fuels is not on the cards in aviation. Consequently, a joint project headed by the Advanced Energy Systems Institute (AES) at the University of Bremen takes a different approach and is researching the electricity-based production of environmentally friendly kerosene.

In order to produce green fuel, hydrogen and carbon dioxide are converted into hydrocarbons using electricity. The sourcing of CO2 and electricity is essential: carbon dioxide is either extracted from the atmosphere or obtained from biomass; electricity comes from renewable energy sources. So the fuel is burned in a climate-neutral way along the entire chain, creating what is called a closed CO2 cycle. The fuel produced is supposed to replace kerosene one-to-one.

The main focus of the research project is the use of surplus—from the grid's point of view—wind power. This is one of the reasons why the project is situated in Heide: the wind turbines here with a total installed capacity of around 1.5 GW are the main source of renewable energy. At present, surplus energy is being throttled by grid bottlenecks and a lack of flexibility, and is therefore lost. The project is now investigating how it could instead be stored in the form of hydrogen and used to produce environmentally friendly kerosene. A new synthesis process based on methanol is also being tested. The aim is to take the produced electricity-generated fuel closer to a market launch.

With a total amount of around 4.2 million euros for a duration of three years, the research project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) within the framework of the funding initiative “Energy transition in the transport sector: sector coupling through the use of electricity-based fuels”.