At Aerion Supersonic, having engineers with heads in the clouds isn’t only tolerated, it’s encouraged. Designing the world’s first privately built Supersonic Business Jet (SBJ), the AS2®, takes the sort of imagination and ability to think outside the box the average aerospace engineer may not be able to handle.
But for every moment our engineering team devotes to taking our new supersonic jet to market and bringing the world closer together, other members of Aerion have their thoughts much more down to Earth — in fact, below ground level. To achieve Aerion’s goals of being the first carbon-neutral aircraft company in the world, we’ve devoted a portion of our organization’s considerable talents to the subject of carbon removal.
Carbon Removal is an incredibly important part of ensuring the AS2® can travel at speeds above 1,000 mph — without causing environmental harm. Aerion’s green speed initiative involves managing the carbon our planes emit and utilizing fuels of the future to decrease the mark we leave on our world.
As the World Resources Institute explains, “Carbon removal strategies remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it through various means, such as in soils, trees, underground reservoirs, rocks, the ocean and even products like concrete and carbon fiber.” Carbon removal solutions capture and lock away atmospheric carbon to help tackle climate change. Many industries are difficult to decarbonize or may take a long time to reach carbon neutrality, but carbon removal can actively compensate for these sectors by capturing carbon emissions from the air, including the emissions of generations past that remain trapped in the atmosphere.
Aerion is tackling carbon removal from several angles, some more down-to-Earth. For instance, the planet itself possesses a fantastic carbon removal system Aerion fully supports — the growth of trees. Aerion will aid this natural carbon capture system through the Aerion Foundation, which has committed to planting 100 million trees by 2036. Each tree will hungrily absorb carbon as it contributes to forest growth.
Planting trees isn’t the only plan for carbon removal Aerion is working on. Aerion is teaming up with world-leading experts at Carbon Engineering (CE) to investigate Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology. CE’s innovative DAC process captures carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere so it can be permanently sequestered deep underground or turned into the fuel of tomorrow.
Here’s how this works. CE’s DAC technology is paired with geological storage to capture and permanently sequester carbon under the Earth. Carbon is captured from the air using large tower structures and a series of chemical reactions. It is then compressed into a fluid almost as dense as water, and injected under the ground into porous rock with an impermeable rock layer above acting as a barrier. To explain this in un-scientific terms, imagine liquid carbon injected into a sponge that is then locked away in a Tupperware container. This carbon will be safely stored in the Earth for potentially millions of years.
But Aerion’s partnership with CE is focused on an even more interesting idea — the potential for environmentally-friendly fuels. CE and Aerion share a vision of the AS2® SBJ powered by clean fuels that provide all of the power and none of the emissions. CE’s answer to this lofty goal is found in its AIR TO FUELSTM methodology. The process begins with CE’s Direct Air Capture technology empowering the capture of carbon from air. Then, instead of injecting it into the ground, it becomes the raw material for synthetic fuels that essentially are much cleaner versions of the hydrocarbons burned today in our jets.
Steve Oldham, CEO of CE, explained the future of fuel this way: “Our DAC technology captures yesterday’s emitted CO2 and converts it into fuel. When used in any vehicle, the carbon is returned to the atmosphere as CO2; however, the process then captures it again to make more fuel. So, we continually re-use existing CO2, and little or no new carbon emissions are created. This provides a way to decarbonize sectors of transportation that are difficult to electrify and that require the high energy density of liquid fuels.”
Aerion is proud to partner with CE to harness this powerful source of environmentally friendly fuel for the AS2® SBJ. To put it another way, tomorrow’s fuel for the AS2® will come from today’s fuel, captured and refined into a pure-burning synthetic fuel. This disruptive technology is further proof of Aerion’s commitment to green speed — supersonic flight that is as environmentally-friendly as it is fast.
If you would like to learn more about our company and our innovative approach to supersonic flight, please read our profile in Forbes or visit aerionsupersonic.com.