Dronamics to test fossil-free synthetic fuel in long-range cargo drones

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Zero Petroleum will supply its fossil-free fuel to drone cargo airline Dronamics for testing, with a view to commercial use in its long-range cargo drone.

Zero Petroleum’s Zero SynAvGas fuel will be used in Dronamics’ Black Swan drone to enable the company to deliver a carbon-neutral operation. The fuel has been designed to be a direct drop-in replacement for existing fossil-based fuel, delivering the same performance and range as existing products but sustainably and fossil-free. It is manufactured by extracting hydrogen from water and capturing carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide, a process that is entirely sustainable when using renewable energy sources such as wind or solar. When burned it emits exactly the same amount of carbon as is used in its production, creating a fully circular process.

The drone, which can carry a 350kg payload over distances of up to 2,500km, is powered by a Rotax propeller engine provided by CFS Aero. Dronamics’ fixed-wing aircraft is 8m long with a 16m wingspan and can operate from unpaved runways as short as 400m. It can fly up to 22,000ft in altitude and at speeds up to 125mph and is designed for the middle mile in air freight, securing the provision of same-day deliveries to remote areas. According to the companies’ research, transporting cargo using kerosene-fueled belly freight produces 755g of CO2  emissions per metric ton-km tank to wheels. In contrast, Dronamics’ drones flown with synthetic fuel will operate in an entirely carbon-neutral process.

Paddy Lowe, co-founder and CEO of Zero Petroleum, said, “As a former Formula 1 engineer, I have spent my entire career working on cutting edge innovation, so I am very excited for Zero Petroleum to partner with Dronamics and CFS Aeroproducts on this potentially ground-breaking project. Operating an autonomous delivery network on this scale makes great sense but to carry these heavy payloads over such great distances would be impossible using electric power. Our fossil-free fuels, which have a carbon neutral lifecycle and can be produced in a factory on any site close to water and renewable power, are the ideal way to deliver this as a fully sustainable alternative to the existing air freight solution.”

Svilen Rangelov, co-founder and CEO of Dronamics, said, “Sustainability is a vital part of our plans and as the first drone cargo airline in the world, we are delighted to have secured an agreement for Zero Petroleum to supply their fuel for Dronamics’ future drone network. Not only is the fuel entirely sustainable and fossil-free, but the modular manufacturing process also has a small footprint so it fits perfectly into our future droneport plans, potentially enabling the fuel to be produced on-site. We are very excited to work with the team at Zero Petroleum as we move toward commercial operations in the coming year.”

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