International Aircraft Manufacturer Airbus has become an industry leader when it comes to sustainable jet fuel used to power passenger flights. Biofuel powered flights were approved for commercial use in July 2011, and airlines have slowly been incorporating biofuel as a drop-in fuel alternative in commercial flights. NASA has estimated that just a 50% incorporation of biofuel in aviation can reduce overall emissions by 50 to 80%. Use of biofuel as an alternative fuel source requires some reformatting of an aircraft’s components and additional care for the fuel, since it can gel over at colder temperatures and has the tendency to shrink rubber components. Cathay Pacific has been flying reconfigured A350-900’s since May of last year.
While the newly configured A350’s are only flying with a 10% blend of sustainable fuel, it demonstrates that such flights are economically feasible and can be used to reduce CO2 emissions. Currently the aviation industry is estimated to account for 2-3 percent of global emissions. The goal is to keep that percentage below three percent. Since aircraft require such a high power to weight ratio, the industry is not expected to make a switch to hybrid electric power any time soon, therefore, liquid biofuels are the most logical way to reduce emissions in the foreseeable future.
Leading Aircraft Manufacturer Boeing is also participating in the effort to reduce aviation emissions. A partnership between the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing has formed with stakeholder support to gain approval for a biofuel called HF-HEFA. This fuel known as “green diesel” is already used in ground transport and produced globally more than 1 billion gallons. HF-HEFA has been demonstrated to be a price-competitive sustainable biofuel that replace approximately 1% of fuel consumption in the industry.
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