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Consortium launches Zenid – synthetic sustainable aviation fuel from air demo

In the Netherlands, a consortium consisting of Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTM) – part of Royal Schiphol Group, Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport RHIA), renewable fuel aggregator, blender, and distributor SkyNRG, and Swiss direct air capture (DAC) technology providers Climeworks AG has launched the next step in realizing Zenid – a demonstration plant producing fully circular sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) sourcing carbon directly from the air.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Zenid synthetic sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) demonstration plant at the Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTM). Zenid aims to build the world’s first industrial size demonstration plant for SAF made from the air in the heart of Europe’s largest kerosene trading area, the Rotterdam Region, the Netherlands (image courtesy Zenid).

The aviation industry is responsible for around 3 percent of global anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and has the challenging objective to reduce these emissions in the next decade significantly. Unlike road transport, aviation cannot switch to electric or hydrogen propulsion yet and therefore depends on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

Synthetic SAF made from the air via direct air capture technology and renewable electricity offers a carbon-neutral solution suitable to meet the industry’s high demands for renewable fuels in the future.

Sustainable aviation fuel produced synthetically from CO2 is one of the promising technological pathways necessary to transition towards a sustainable aviation industry, that’s why SkyNRG is proud to support the Zenid project, said Maarten van Dijk, Managing Director at SkyNRG.

Zenid demonstration facility

The announcement was made at a High-Level Conference on Synthetic SAF held on February 8, 2021, and hosted by the Dutch Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen and sets a new milestone in the development of Zenid.

The launch of Zenid shows the commitment of the industry towards fully circular fuels from the air and their role to substantially reduce aviation’s CO2 emissions, said Christoph Gebald, Co-Founder, Climeworks.

The consortium has agreed to further investigate the construction of a demonstration plant producing fully circular SAF with 100 percent CO2 derived from the air, based on the positive outcome of a feasibility study for such a plant conducted in 2019 and financed by Royal Schiphol Group.

The European consortium conducting the study was led by the German service provider EDL and further consisted of Climeworks, Sunfire GmbH, Ineratec GmbH, SkyNRG, and Urban Crossovers.

Principle process flows of the circular carbon capture and recycling (CCR) Zenid synthetic sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from the air (image courtesy Zenid).

Zenid is now taking the next step with the support of these technology partners. The demonstration plant will be powered by regionally sourced renewable energy and combines several innovative technologies: a DAC plant provides CO2 to a highly efficient co-electrolysis unit, that turns the CO2 and added water into syngas.

The syngas is transformed into liquid hydrocarbons by a modular Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactor and then refined into SAF. Furthermore, the Zenid consortium has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Germany-headed energy major Uniper SE to support the engineering and operation of the demonstration plant.

Rotterdam the Hague Airport is very proud to be one of the Kick-Starters of this groundbreaking project, together with Schiphol Group and Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport (RHIA). It fits exceptionally well within our strategy to facilitate and accelerate sustainability and innovation in aviation, to be at the cradle of sustainable aviation fuel made of CO2 from the air. We support this project with our know-how and local networks, said Ron Louwerse, Director at Rotterdam the Hague Airport.

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