Solar jet fuel has been created for the first time

Illustration for article titled Solar jet fuel has been created for the first time

Maybe we won't suck up all of Earth's resources and destroy our planet just yet. Scientists say that they have created solar jet fuel using just sunlight, water and carbon dioxide for the very first time. That's basically creating fuel from thin air.

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It's a damn impressive feat and puts us closer to the dream of creating renewable energy for our Earth-sucking moving boxes known as planes, cars and other transportation vehicles. European scientists have done this by using simulated, concentrated sunlight at a temperature of nearly 1300 degrees Fahrenheit to convert and separate water and carbon dioxide into a synthetic gas made of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. That synthetic gas can be turned into kerosene.

The scientists, who've been working at this for four years under the SOLAR-JET project, have only made a jar of the solar jet fuel so far but they imagine a future where 20,000 liters of jet fuel could be made per day from a full-scale version.

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If they're able to do that, cars, planes, and other vehicles will have much cleaner and endless amounts of fuel.

Illustration for article titled Solar jet fuel has been created for the first time
Illustration for article titled Solar jet fuel has been created for the first time

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DISCUSSION

That's basically creating fuel from thin air.

*sigh*

This might be the single most scientifically illiterate thing you could have said to describe this breakthrough. You might as well have said they were creating fuel from phlogiston.

Seriously. Conservation of mass and energy. You can't get something from nothing in a closed system. And given the energy crisis that brought us to this point, thinking of this as "creating fuel from thin air" - a clear euphemistic stand-in for "an unlimited supply of fuel" - is completely the wrong way to look at this, even if it were for real at this point.

And it's not real...yet. It's a small-scale proof of concept involving an artificial sun.

I get that science is exciting, and the future (and likely inevitable) increase in solar power's role in large-scale energy production is an awesome thing. But the hyperbole is unnecessary, and it can often give a factually inaccurate impression of the real story.