How One Company Plans To Make Air Travel More Environmentally Friendly

Air Company is aiming to make air travel more sustainable by using carbon capture techniques to produce recycled jet fuel for planes.

By Brian Scheid | Published

Since the dawn of the 20th century, people have been enamored with air travel, and each historical advancement in technology has brought us to where the airplane industry is today. As with all technology, it is only a matter of time before someone creates a better version of standard practice. No, I am not talking about flying cars but in this case, this new technology and process will not only change a long-standing aeronautic standard practice but will also impact one of an airplane’s largest negative consequences – the negative impact on the environment.

If an airplane’s internal combustion engine is known as the heart of an aircraft, then the blood to carry the energy that it needs is the jet fuel of the airplane. A Brooklyn-based company named Air Company is developing a jet fuel that is manufactured by recapturing Carbon from the atmosphere.

They accomplish this by harvesting carbon from the atmosphere around industrial settings, then they take water and separate the hydrogen from the oxygen, and they blend the Carbon with the Hydrogen and with a proprietary mix of other compounds. The solution then goes through a distilling process that most resembles an old whiskey distilling system.

If you don’t believe this is possible, I wouldn’t blame you because it does seem a bit far-fetched and from a galaxy far, far away. One of Air Company’s main priorities, when they formed, was to come up with solutions for removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. In 2019 Air Canada made a splash in the liquor goods market when they launched a new vodka that is completely derived from recaptured carbon.

Yes, you did read that correctly. They have already shown that they have a process in place of recapturing carbon and distilling it into a solution that is ethyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is the main ingredient of not only their Vodka, but also a perfume line, and paraffin also better-known as the basis of jet fuel.

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Air Company also has some serious and legitimate backing from companies that believe that they have a realistic probability of being able to manufacture and distribute this product in the not-too-distant future. According to CNN Business, “Air Company’s sustainable aviation fuel, which was recently tested by the US Air Force, could ultimately help the airline industry hit its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Currently, the airline industry accounts for about 3% of total global carbon emissions each year, and mostly relies on traditional, fossil-based fuels that require various forms of environmental disruption to produce. Already, some of the world’s biggest airlines are signing on to Air Company’s vision. The company announced last month that Jet Blue and Virgin Atlantic, as well as startup aircraft company Boom Supersonic, have agreed to purchase millions of gallons of its fuel in the coming years. Jet Blue Ventures, the airline’s investment arm, also invested directly in Air Company’s $30 million Series A funding round earlier this year.”

Air travel will be changed forever if they are able to deliver on this concept. Some of the claims being made by the manufacturer is the amount of carbon that is released by the engine is the same amount that was extracted to create it, which means the whole process would be carbon neutral. Instead of adding carbon into the atmosphere by 3% annually airlines would be able to reduce that number to zero so from that perspective it would not be making matters worse than the current climate situation.

Air Company does admit they still have work to do to perfect it and they need to ramp up the testing of it before it ever gets close to a commercial airline. However, the industry has taken notice and some of the airlines are going to put their money where their mouth is to turn this concept into a reality.