(Mirror Daily, United States) – A group of researchers found that a mix of aviation fuel and biofuel can reduce jet engine pollution by more than 50%. Even though, today’s airliners are 70% more fuel efficient than their counterparts in the 1960s, they still generate 2% of the human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. In 2015, human activities generated 781 million tons of CO2.
So, the airline industry is constantly researching more environment-friendly alternatives to classic jet fuel.
A recent study revealed that a blend of conventional fuel and biofuels can reduce particle emissions by 50% to 70%. In their study, researchers performed test flights on a NASA DC 8.
Biofuels are currently seen as a greener alternative to fossil fuels as they can be produced from algae and non-invasive plants which do not out-compete or displace food crops. Canada’s National Research Council was the first to test jets using 100% biofuel – in 2012. Anthony Brown who works with the NRC said the group has been researching the issue “from the word go.”
Brown praised the new findings as a “big deal.” He noted that the airline industry is not as competitive as the automotive industry when it comes to research. The new mix of fuels has a huge advantage: it doesn’t require jet makers to alter planes’ engine.
Moreover, the plants used in biofuel productions are sustainable and can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions as they grow. The gas is then released back into the air as the fuel burns.
Airlines can benefit from the discovery as fuel is their greatest expense. So, fluctuating oil prices can lead to a plethora of problems. Biofuels, on the other hand, could help them make significant savings. And they can do all that by lending a hand to the fight on climate change.
Study authors are confident biofuels will be able fuel all types of commercial aircraft within the next decade. Still, some challenges remain.
The greatest challenge is cost as a gallon of biofuel currently stands at $18. Conventional fuel costs just $4/gallon. Researchers believe that as fuel supply matures, the price will go down “dramatically.”
Another challenge is the availability of land. Countries will have to sacrifice arable land to grow crops that are used for biofuel production. This might not be a problem for the U.S., but it could turn out to be a great challenge for developing nations where food is already scarce.
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