Phase II year
2020 (last award dollars: 2020)
Phase II Amount
We have demonstrated a non-thermal microwave plasma catalysis reformer (PCR) that efficiently maximizes the reuse of CO2. We intend to recycle CO2 for the generation of jet fuel. While other modes of transportation may be electrified, aviation depends on safe, high energy density jet fuels. In Phase I PCR technology was demonstrated to a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 3 using a 2.45 GHz source at 1 kW. Although we were unable to test some concepts that would have improved the performance of the system because of the shutdown due to COVID19, we managed to fulfill the main goals of the program: greater than 90% methane conversion (achieved ~99%) and greater than 60% electrical efficient (achieved 60%). The experimental results have been used to benchmark the models, and provide confidence that the Phase II program will succeed. In Phase II, in collaboration with University of Massachusetts Lowell, we intend to scale up the system with the goal of reaching TRL 6 by the end of the program. We will scale to 6 kW at 2.45 GHz. Following the initial phase, we intend to scale to 100 kW at 915 MHz. The power densities of the 6 kW, 2.45 GHZ and the 100 kW, 915 MHz experiments are similar, and thus the initial experiment will minimize risks. The 100 kW PCR unit is pilot-scale; increased productivity will be achieved through multiplexing 100 kW PCR units. We will also test long term stability of the PCR unit by running long duration campaigns. Although the results in the Phase I are sufficiently attractive, we will also provide means to improve the PCR operation, by using means to drive nonthermal plasmas, by using alkali plasma seeding to control the plasma temperature, and by providing elements to recuperate the heat from the hot CO-rich exhaust. The goal of these additions is to increase the electrical efficiency. There is significant demand for low carbon intensity jet fuel, and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis is an approved pathway. The current supply of alternative jet fuel is approximately 5 million gallons per year and is forecast to rise to 120 million gallons by 2020. Phase I techno-economic analysis of the combined plasma catalysis reformation and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis of alternative jet fuel projects a minimum selling price near the market price of conventional jet fuel with a 50-80 % reduction of carbon dioxide emissions (depending on feedstocks). If the project is successful, the environmental and economic impact is billions of gallons of displaced conventional jet fuel: for every billion gallons displaced, a potential ten million tonnes of CO2 emissions can be reduced.