These days, to stop the accelerating pace of global warming, major companies all over the world have come up with ways on how to reduce their carbon footprint. Currently, the automobile industry is also gradually shifting from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. The aviation industry accounts for almost 2.5% of carbon emissions so now, according to the latest news, scientists have come up with an innovative solution. This time, scientists are creating jet fuel out of waste products for airplanes.
Singularity Hub reported that the aviation sector has been working on various ways to reduce its carbon footprints. As of now, many companies are developing electric planes but today’s battery technology is not up to the mark to balance the power and the weight to keep a plane afloat so scientists and researchers are working on a liquid alternative of jet fuel that has similar energy density. Now, they have successfully created biofuel for airplanes using food waste.
In the previous iteration of the research, the final result did not match the industry standard but a recently published paper on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) claims to have found a new way to produce food scrap-based biofuels that meet the current aviation standards.
In the previous iteration, the researchers turned wet waste like food scraps, wastewater sludge, and animal manures into volatile fatty acids (VFAs) which were upgraded into jet fuel. In the latest iteration, the researchers used a catalyst to add extra carbon to the VFA molecules which converts them into paraffin that is similar to standard jet fuel used in commercial flights. In simple words, this time, the researchers mixed 10% of the paraffin with 90% of standard jet fuel to create a biofuel version. This biofuel version meets the current aviation standards.
After developing the latest version of biofuel for the aviation industry, the team of scientists partnered with Southwest Airlines to scale up the production process. The report conveys that the researchers are aiming to start flight trials using this biofuel by 2023. The report points out that the new biofuel would reduce the carbon footprints of the aviation industry by around 165 percent.
Derek Vardon, the lead author of the paper said “If our refining pathway is scaled up, it could take as little as a year or two for airlines like Southwest to get the fuel regulatory approvals they need to start using wet waste sustainable aviation fuel in commercial flights. That means net-zero-carbon flights are on the horizon earlier than some might have thought.”