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'Zero carbon footprint supersonic flight' – Boom Supersonic makes bold claim after fuel partnership

Joseph Flaig at the Paris Air Show

The Boom Supersonic XB-1 prototype plane (Credit: Boom Supersonic)
The Boom Supersonic XB-1 prototype plane (Credit: Boom Supersonic)

Boom Supersonic will make the first ever ‘zero carbon footprint’ supersonic flight next year, the company claimed this afternoon.

The ambitious start-up, which is developing a two-seater prototype plane ahead of its planned 55-seat Overture commercial airliner, made the announcement to a packed room of journalists at the Paris Air Show.

Founder and CEO Blake Scholl confirmed the completion of ground testing for its XB-1 prototype before announcing a partnership with Prometheus, a California company that “sucks” carbon from the air and uses electricity from renewable energy sources to convert it into petrol, diesel and jet fuel. Burning just that fuel to power an aircraft could result in no net increase in carbon emissions.  

“It’s not good enough to just match the fuel efficiency and emissions profiles of current business class, which is the baseline. We have to find a way to actually improve upon it,” said Scholl.

“Prometheus technology works like magic, it literally sucks carbon out of the atmosphere and converts it into liquid hydrocarbon. And today we’re announcing that we’ve teamed up with Prometheus to bring that amazing technology very specifically to aviation for the first time. Prometheus is supplying us with their amazing fuel for the XB-1 flight test programme, meaning that we will have history’s first zero net carbon – literally zero carbon footprint – supersonic flight.”

Little information is available on Prometheus online, but its technology reportedly uses carbon nanotubes to relatively cheaply separate chemicals into usable fuel. Boom Supersonic will work with Prometheus to scale up its technology and get it through certification “so it can also be part of the future for Overture,” raising the possibility of commercial flights using the fuel.

The company aims to fly the Overture in the mid-2020s. It has a predicted top speed of Mach 2.2 (2,717km/h), potentially flying from New York to London in 3.25 hours.

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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