Twelve produces first batch of E-Jet fuel from CO2 electrolysis; partnership with USAF; electrifying fuel, not planes
Carbon transformation company Twelve (formerly Opus 12, earlier post) has produced the first fossil-free jet fuel—called E-Jet—from CO2 electrolysis, demonstrating a scalable, energy-efficient path to the de-fossilization of global aviation. This project was supported through funding from the US Air Force (USAF), and produced fuel globally applicable for both commercial and military aviation.
Global aviation produces 1.2 billion tons of CO2emissions per year and represents one of the hardest-to-abate sectors, since it is technically unfeasible to electrify long-haul planes at scale due to power density challenges. Twelve’s jet fuel, produced using its carbon transformation technology in partnership with Fischer-Tropsch conversion experts Emerging Fuels Technology (earlier post), is a fossil-free fuel that offers a drop-in replacement for petrochemical-based alternatives without any changes to existing plane design or commercial regulations.
Electrifying planes with batteries has proven unfeasible for at-scale decarbonization of aviation, necessitating the production of fossil-free jet fuel. We’ve essentially electrified the fuel instead through our electrochemical process, and the fuel drops right into existing commercial planes, allowing operators to instantly reduce their carbon footprint without any sacrifice to operating quality. Since you can’t electrify the plane, we’ve electrified the fuel.—Twelve Co-Founder and CEO Nicholas Flanders
Twelve has developed an efficient polymer-electrolyte membrane (PEM) CO2 electrolyzer that uses proprietary CO2-reducing catalysts to split CO2 with just water and renewable electricity as inputs, syngas (CO and hydrogen) as the output, and pure oxygen as the only byproduct. For the USAF project, Twelve and EFT upgrade the syngas to aviation fuel. Twelve says that its technology connects to any source of emissions, is completely modular, and integrates seamlessly into existing industrial systems at any scale.
Creating jet fuel from CO2 enables the Air Force to increase energy independence and reduce risk in fuel logistics without compromising on fuel quality or reliability. Twelve worked in partnership with the Air Force’s Operational Energy office through a joint contract with AFWERX, a program office at the Air Force Research Laboratory, and SBIR, the Small Business Innovation Research program.
One of our main goals with this project was to create a clean jet fuel that enhances security and energy independence without sacrificing operational readiness. The successful completion of the project proves that efficiency and environmental responsibility are not mutually exclusive.—Roberto Guerrero, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Operational Energy
In July, Twelve raised $57 million in Series A funding from lead investors Capricorn Technology Impact Fund and Carbon Direct Capital Management. Seed round lead DCVC, as well as Munich Re Ventures, Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, Breakout Ventures, and Evok Innovations also participated in the round.
Twelve was founded in 2015 by Dr. Etosha Cave, Dr. Kendra Kuhl, and Nicholas Flanders, who met as graduate students at Stanford University. Formerly Opus 12, Twelve is based in Berkeley, California. Twelve refers to the Carbon-12 isotope, the most abundant form of the element that amounts to 98.93% of the carbon on Earth.