Landfills are estimated to be the source of up to 20 million tons/year of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily methane and carbon dioxide (CO2). A process for capturing and converting these pollutants into sustainable aviation fuel is being advanced by researchers from Xi’an Jiaotong University (China), the University of Sydney (Australia) and the University of New South Wales (Australia).

The approach described in the Journal of the American Chemical Society starts with the extraction of these gases from a landfill site by means of a shaft-like mechanism. The captured methane and CO2 are subjected to a non-thermal plasma processing environment in a plasma bubble reactor at room temperature and atmospheric pressure to yield more complex, long-chain hydrocarbons such as jet fuel.

The electrically driven process effectively produced the requisite long-chain hydrocarbon compounds for aviation fuel, as confirmed by solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization-mass spectroscopy.

“Essentially, what this means is this approach facilitates the conversion of the gas into value-added products by inducing plasma discharge within forming gas bubbles. The process doesn’t require heat or pressure, meaning it requires less energy, making it highly compatible with renewable energy power sources,” explained the researchers.

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