£18m for development of OxCCU sustainable aviation fuel

Conversion of captured carbon dioxide into sustainable fuel has potential to decarbonise air transport at relatively low cost. 

Air travel produces a lot of CO2. The International Energy Agency has estimated that aviation accounts for 2% of energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide – more than some whole countries.

photo of airplane wing under blue sky at daytime

That’s why there’s so much focus on air travel in our efforts to cut emissions and achieve net zero. There are ever more stringent regulations, such as the EU’s ReFuelEU Aviation Standard and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Sustainable Skies Act in the US.  

Yet alternatives to jet fuel have so far proved very expensive. Airlines have said this is the chief barrier to them adopting sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). 

That’s where OxCCU comes in. The Oxford-based climate tech company, spun off from Oxford Univeristy, has been developing innovative catalysts and reactor designs to convert CO2 and hydrogen into hydrocarbons with high conversion and selectivity for use as fuels, chemicals and plastics. 

The OxCCU system streamlines the use two-step process for producing e-hydrocarbons in a one-step catalytic conversion. The result is Oxefuel (TM), a new SAF combining captured carbon dioxide and renewably sourced green hydrogen through an innovative iron-based catalyst. 

Modelling by independent researchers from Imperial College London (through Imperial Consultants) shows that OxCCU’s one-step process significantly reduces the overall cost of the fuel because of higher selectivity yield in the jet fuel range and a 50% lower capital cost. 

Andrew Symes, CEO of OxCCU, says: ‘We’ve built an extraordinary team of senior scientists, engineers and operators, and now backed by this experienced group of investors, we are confident we can scale this technology into a cost-competitive and globally deployable solution to create a sustainable drop-in product for the global aviation market.’ 

The company has now completed £18m (US $22.7m) Series A financing to commercialise cost-effective SAF. The round was led by Clean Energy Ventures. With this, OxCCU will accelerate its path to market by scaling its catalytic approach. 

Daniel Goldman, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Clean Energy Ventures, says: ‘This breakthrough is exactly what we need to turn the emerging SAF market into reality and cost-effectively cut carbon emissions from fuel production at scale.  

‘OxCCU’s process is unique in the emerging SAF industry based on our evaluation of dozens of technologies. We see extraordinary potential for this technology to mitigate new aviation fuel production emissions at gigaton-scale in the near-future, and we are pleased to lead an extraordinary consortium of industry leaders to support the company in its commercialisation and deployment.’ 

Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures, adds: ‘Sustainable aviation fuel is the best tool we have to decarbonize air travel, but we continue to face a significant supply shortage. The technology developed by OxCCU has the potential to resolve our supply problem by using CO2 as a feedstock to produce fuel.  

‘This cutting-edge solution could be a cost-effective pathway for United to reach our commitment of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, without relying on traditional carbon offsets.’ 

In related news, a new report advises investors to ‘Put your money in space’. 

Photo by Patrick Tomasso.


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