Boeing signs alternative fuel deal with Los Angeles startup to reduce carbon footprint

SAN DIEGO (AP) — As the aviation industry looks to reduce its carbon footprint, Boeing has just signed an agreement to help in the quest for a sustainable jet fuel, and it’s tied to an unlikely source: the ocean.

The aerospace giant has signed a deal with a Los Angeles-based startup to buy hydrogen that will be produced by facilities designed to clean seawater of carbon dioxide so the ocean can absorb more of this greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. .

By absorbing 30% of carbon dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution, the ocean has acted as a massive carbon sink and has been a crucial buffer to protect people from the even worse effects of early climate change.

Equatic said Boeing has agreed to pre-purchase the hydrogen, which will be produced when it employs the carbon removal system – developed by the University of California at Los Angeles faculty of engineering – at facilities in the ports of Los Angeles and Singapore. It is scheduled to go live in 2025. Researchers have been testing the system at demonstration sites in both locations.

Green hydrogen could then be used as a component of sustainable aviation fuel. Aviation currently accounts for about 2.5% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Equatic’s COO Edward Sanders acknowledged that Boeing’s support is a huge boost to an initiative that is just getting started.

“With the Boeing deal, they recognize that hydrogen will be useful to them,” he said. “And we’ve had some very encouraging conversations with other industries that also need hydrogen and have plans to do so through carbon-neutral generation. of green hydrogen.”

To help keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world’s largest airline association, the International Air Transport Association, has set a target for the air transport industry to achieve zero net carbon emissions by 2050. aviation to be replaced by sustainable fuel by 2050.

While other forms of transport are increasingly being electrified, making large battery-powered planes has presented an expensive challenge, and many in the aviation industry are exploring replacing fossil fuels with sustainable fuels, which would not require major technical modifications to the aircraft. The world’s first synthetic kerosene plant opened in Germany in 2021.

Equatic said it will remove 62,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide for Boeing and supply the aerospace company with 2,100 metric tons of hydrogen under its five-year contract. The companies declined to provide details on how much revenue would be generated or other details of the deal.

Sheila Remes, Boeing’s vice president of environmental sustainability, said in a statement that “achieving aviation sustainability goals will require a multi-pronged approach and Boeing sees a significant opportunity in Equatic’s technology.”

Equatic’s process sends an electrical charge through the seawater that triggers a series of chemical reactions that trap the greenhouse gas in a solid mineral, while also producing hydrogen. Sea water is then returned to the ocean and can take more carbon dioxide out of the air, while the solid mineral, which contains calcium carbonate, can then settle to the sea floor.

Proceeds from selling hydrogen, as well as carbon credits that companies can claim to offset their pollution, will go toward Equatic’s plans to open facilities.

According to the UCLA team that developed the technology, at least 1,800 industrial-scale installations would be needed to capture 10 billion tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide a year, but even less could make a difference.

The aim is to remove carbon at a cost well below $100 per metric ton, the company said. He added that hydrogen would be produced at less than $1 per kilogram, which would be substantially less than the current cost of cleanly produced hydrogen.

Equatic has said it aims to achieve 100,000 metric tons of carbon removal per year by 2026 and millions of metric tons per year by 2028.

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