CO2 recycling company Dimensional Energy, which recently received a significant investment from United Airlines, has entered an agreement with Heliogen, a leading provider of AI-enabled concentrated solar energy technology. The Letter of Intent signed by the two parties stipulates that they will jointly produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) – made from sunlight and air.

The production, which will begin with building a fully integrated ~1 barrel per day drop-in ready SAF demonstration, will take place at Heliogen’s concentrated solar thermal demonstration facility in Lancaster, California. This is intended to be the first step toward scaling up a pipeline for approximately 3 million barrels of fuel over the next ten years.


Jason Salfi, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dimensional Energy, commented on the “first-of-a-kind” collaboration,

“This collaboration with Heliogen represents a key development in our vision of a world free from fossil fuel dependency. Leveraging Heliogen’s breakthrough technology to use sunlight to produce SAF will help demonstrate the potential for a truly carbon-free, more affordable, and drop-in replacement for conventional jet fuel.”

Planes to fly on sunlight and air?

Dimensional Energy recently made the news when United Airlines committed to purchasing at least 300 million gallons of its Power-to-Liquid (PtL) SAF over 20 years. PtLs (also referred to as e-fuels) are made using renewable energy, captured CO2, and green hydrogen. One of the major issues with PtL technology is the availability – or lack thereof – of renewable energy, which is also needed to produce green hydrogen. This is something that placing production at the same location as solar parks could provide a solution to.

Meanwhile, Bill Gross, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Heliogen, commented on the new agreement between his company and Dimensional Energy,

“Dimensional’s flexible thermal utilization platform is the most scalable and cost effective solution, and when combined with Heliogen’s transformative concentrated solar technology, this partnership brings us one crucial step closer to a future where we can fly planes on fuel created by sunlight and air – not fossil fuels.”

One of the crucial elements of PtL is renewable electricity – something solar power could solve. Photo: Airbus 

Up to 90% less CO2

Sustainable aviation fuel can be, well, more or less sustainable. Most agree that today’s biofuels, while a necessary intermediate step, are not an ideal solution. They emit the same amount of CO2 when burned as fossil-based jet fuel. However, because this is CO2 that has been taken up by the plants/waste from the air, the net carbon released into the atmosphere is much lower than when it has been dug up from the ground. Generally, this is calculated at around 80% less CO2 emissions over the lifecycle for SAF from renewable sources. For PtLs, this is as high as 90%. They also hold a promise of a circular system by using the CO2 emitted by aircraft and putting it back into fuel.

The airline industry is always full of new developments! What aviation news will you check out next?

Do you believe in the future of Power-to-Liquid fuels? What are the major pitfalls on the path? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.

This content was originally published here.