Zero Petroleum will supply its revolutionary fossil-free fuel to the world’s first licensed drone cargo airline, Dronamics, for testing with a view to commercial use in its long-range cargo drone. The partnership aims to support the creation of Dronamics’ sustainable same-day delivery service for items such as e-commerce goods, perishable food, manufacturing parts and medical supplies.
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 drone, which can carry a 350 kg payload over distances of up to 2,500 km, is powered by a ROTAX propeller engine provided by CFS Aeroproducts.
Dronamics recently became the first drone cargo company in the world to obtain a European drone airline license and is currently working with a consortium in the UK to build out a medical supply drone network for NHS Scotland.
Zero Petroleum Co-Founder and CEO Paddy Lowe said: “As a former Formula One 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.”
Dronamics Co-Founder and CEO Svilen Rangelov 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, the modular manufacturing process 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 towards commercial operations in the coming year.”
Dronamics’ fixed-wing aircraft is 8m long with a 16m wingspan and can operate from unpaved runways as short as 400 metres. It can fly up to 22,000ft in altitude and at speeds up to 125mph and is designed to fill the critical missing middle mile in air freight, securing the provision of same-day deliveries to even the most remote areas of the world.
The use of Zero Petroleum fuels, rather than fossil fuels or even biofuels or fuel from waste, is key to the company’s long-term sustainability plans. According to research, transporting cargo using kerosene-fuelled belly freight produces 755g CO2 emissions per tonne-km tank to wheels. In contrast, Dronamics’ drones flown with synthetic fuel will operate in an entirely carbon-neutral process.
ZERO® SynAVGAS® is a direct drop-in replacement for existing fossil-based fuel, delivering the same performance and range as existing products but entirely 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 new partnership with Dronamics is the latest commercial link-up for Zero Petroleum and follows the signing of a contract in July to work with the Royal Air Force on the development of its fast jet aviation fuel. The British-based company completed a second round of funding in July and is in the process of setting up a new technical development facility to commence low volume production of its synthetic fuels in the coming months.
In collaboration with the RAF, the company secured the Guinness World Records® title ‘First aircraft powered by synthetic fuel’ in 2021 using ZERO® SynAVGAS® in a ROTAX-powered aircraft. Earlier this year, the company ran the first prototype of its ZERO® Syn95® petrol in two supercars for a demonstration run on BBC’s Top Gear, leading the presenting team to declare it a ‘magic bullet’ that heralds a ‘bright new dawn’ for the automotive industry. The same fuel was also used to power the Duke of Richmond’s motorbike at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
ABOUT ZERO PETROLEUM
Zero Petroleum is a British technology company that makes whole-blend synthetic, non-biological fuels – petrol (gasoline), diesel and jet fuel – in a completely fossil-free process, using just carbon dioxide taken from the air and renewable hydrogen made from water. Zero Petroleum calls this process petrosynthesis. Synthetic fuels, which can be made at scale, can be dropped straight into the existing engines of cars, aircraft, commercial and agricultural vehicles, allowing them to run sustainably in exactly the same way and with the same performance as they do on fossil fuels, without the need for any engine modification. Synthetic fuels eliminate greenhouse gas accumulation through the creation of a circular carbon cycle, and so eliminate the need for fossil fuels in global industries such as aviation. Petrosynthesis is the answer to the problem faced by industries that cannot be electrified – it provides a total substitute for fossil fuel and ultimately all types of fossil petroleum used in the petrochemical industry for the wide range of materials that are essential to modern life.
Dronamics is the leading developer and operator of large, long-range drones built specifically for cargo. Its flagship Black Swan is able to carry 350kg (770lb) at a distance of up to 2,500km (1,550mi), and can land on airstrips as short as 400m, enabling same-day shipping over very long distances for a variety of industries, from pharma to food, from e-commerce to spare parts and for a cost 50% lower than other aircraft. The company is Europe’s first licensed drone cargo airline and IATA’s first strategic partner for drones worldwide.