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SAF to be produced from carbon dioxide and green hydrogen in ‘world first’

SAF to be produced from carbon dioxide and green hydrogen in 'world first'
This year has seen big news for the UK SAF industry already (Image credit: @tanaonte/Adobe Stock)

In partnership with px Group, OXCCU will develop a “first-of-a-kind” demonstration plant at Saltend Chemicals Park in northern England that will convert carbon dioxide and green hydrogen into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as soon as 2026.

The climate-tech spin-out from the University of Oxford has demonstrated the “world’s first” direct carbon dioxide hydrogenation process, turning CO2 directly into aviation fuel range hydrocarbons, known as SAF, with minimal oxygenate byproducts.

The project presents a “novel approach to SAF production”, simplifying a multi-step process to a single step, according to OXCCU.

Andrew Symes, CEO of OXCCU, said: “The strategic combination of OXCCU’s highly efficient novel catalyst and process with px Group’s world leading facilities creates the perfect environment for us to scale-up.

“This project will demonstrate CO2 and hydrogen directly converted into jet fuel-range hydrocarbons and the potential for much lower cost SAF.

“We look forward to working with px Group on this exciting step for the global aviation industry.”

The plant is expected to produce 160 kilos (200 litres) of liquid fuel per day, of which the majority will be SAF.

The approach directly aligns with the UK’s Advanced Fuel Fund’s objective to use carbon dioxide as a carbon source for SAF production due to feedstock concerns, at scale with the other biofuel SAF routes.

px Group will provide the engineering, design and construction of the Outside Battery Limits (OSBL) support facilities as well as operations and maintenance when the plant is up and running. The plan is for operations to start in 2026.

Geoff Holmes, CEO of px Group, said: “We are truly excited to be working with OXCCU on a world first project that will shape the long-term sustainability of the UK aviation industry.

“At px Group we are passionate about cutting CO2 emissions and helping the UK to meet its sustainability ambitions.

“This groundbreaking project with OXCCU further meets this commitment and demonstrates the confidence in Saltend as a pioneering centre for industrial decarbonisation projects.”

The news comes as the government looks to ramp up the UK’s role in decarbonising aviation.

Transport secretary Mark Harper previously said he wanted the UK to be a “SAF superpower”.

This year has seen big news for the UK SAF industry after Firefly Green Fuels announced it will produce sustainable aviation fuel from sewage in April.