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Plans for pioneering new sustainable aviation fuel plant in Rotterdam


Rotterdam The Hague Airport, SkyNRG and Climeworks claim that they are taking the next step in realising Zenid – a demonstration plant producing fully circular sustainable aviation fuel directly from air.

Global energy company Uniper has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support Zenid with engineering and operating expertise.

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from air via direct air capture offers a carbon-neutral solution for aviation and contributes to the net zero targets in the aviation industry.

The Dutch gateway will also be working on the project with Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport, an entity formed with the city of Rotterdam to help create a new ‘Aviation District’ around the airport that it is hoped will become a magnet for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Climeworks are described as Swiss direct air capture pioneers.

Rotterdam the Hague Airport director, Ron Louwerse, says: “Rotterdam the Hague Airport is very proud to be one of the Kick-Starters of this ground-breaking 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 air. We support this project with our know how and local networks.”

The aviation industry is responsible for 3% of global man-made 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).

SAF purely made from 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.

Project details
Today’s High-Level Conference on Synthetic SAF hosted by the Dutch Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, sets a new milestone in the development of Zenid.

The consortium have agreed to further investigate the construction of a demonstration plant producing fully circular SAF with 100% CO2 derived from the air.

Based on the positive outcome of a feasibility study for such a plant conducted earlier.

The demonstration plant will be powered by regionally sourced renewable energy and combines several innovative technologies: a direct air capture 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 reactor and then refined into sustainable aviation fuel.

SkyNRG’s Maarten van Dijk, says: “Sustainable aviation fuel produced synthetically from CO2  is one of the promising technological pathway necessary to transition towards a sustainable aviation industry, that’s why SkyNRG is proud to support the Zenid project.”

While Christoph Gebald from Climeworks notes: “The launch of Zenid shows the commitment of the industry towards fully circular fuels from air and their role to substantially reduce aviation’s CO2 emissions.”

The Zenid consortium signed an MoU with global energy company Uniper to support the engineering and operation of the demonstration plant.

The consortium note that for the future availability of fully circular SAF from air, it is crucial to kick-start the scale-up today. The goal of Zenid is to enable a net zero aviation industry in the long-term.

History of the project
In 2019, Royal Schiphol Group financed a study to investigate the feasibility of a demonstration plant able to produce SAF from air, water and renewable electricity.

The European consortium conducting the study was led by the German service provider EDL and further consisted of Climeworks, Sunfire, Ineratec, SkyNRG and Urban Crossovers. Zenid is now taking a next step with the support of these technology partners.





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