Synthetic fuels: Safran bets on a start-up specializing in CO2 capture – 02/08/2024 at 1:31 p.m.


Safran announced on Wednesday that it would take a stake in the Californian start-up Avnos, which is developing technology for capturing CO2 in the air, a way for the French group to push for the development of synthetic fuel sectors, essential to the decarbonization of transport. air.

In order to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, the aviation sector must rely heavily on sustainable fuels (SAF). Those produced from biomass, such as cooking oils, will be far from sufficient to meet needs, it is therefore essential to develop synthetic fuels (efuels), produced by combining hydrogen and CO2.

Aeronautical equipment and engine manufacturer, “Safran does not aim to be a fuel producer, but we have high hopes behind efuels and we are doing everything to better understand the sectors and facilitate their development”, explains Nicolas Jeuland to AFP, sustainable fuels expert at Safran.

Via its venture capital fund for innovative companies, Safran Corporate Ventures, the group therefore participated in a fundraising of 36 million dollars from Avnos, alongside NextEra Energy, Shell, ConocoPhillips or the fund of the airline Jet Blue.

The CO2 necessary for the production of efuels can be captured directly in factory fumes or in ambient air where its concentration is low (around 0.04%).

Its capture in the ambient air requires large quantities of energy and water to extract it using adsorbents, a sort of sponge on which the CO2 attaches, explains Nicolas Jeuland.

Avnos is developing a process which, instead of using water, produces it by absorbing humidity from the air – up to 5 tonnes of water per tonne of CO2 captured according to Avnos – while reducing consumption energy and therefore the capture cost by two.

This process makes it possible to “remove two obstacles, namely the availability of CO2 and that of water to produce hydrogen” by electrolysis, he believes.

Avnos is to set up a pilot 30-tonne CO2 capture unit this year.

Created in 2015, Safran Corporate Ventures has 130 million euros and has invested in 23 start-ups, particularly in technologies linked to decarbonization, according to Florent Illat, its general director. The fund notably invested in 2022 in the German start-up Ineratec, which produces efuels.

For the group, it is a question of “increasing our skills alongside actors with whom we create proximity” and “playing our role in the decarbonization of the sector”, he argues.

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