Aviation fuel, the fuel that powers airplanes through the sky, is a special type of petroleum-based fuel. But just as we see many different pollution-related issues through the use of gasoline for vehicles, aviation fuel also emits a lot of pollution. In an attempt to remedy this situation, Boeing and a team of experts are working to develop a new kind of fuel for airplanes. Hard at work, they are hoping to develop biofuels that are capable of fueling airplanes! EnviroCitizen.org dug a little deeper to learn more about how and why.
Between 2006 and 2009, experts conducted laboratory, ground and flight tests with a variety of test fuels. The results revealed that biofuels perform as well or better than the conventional, petroleum-based aviation fuel. The new fuel, Bio-SPK (short for Biologically Derived Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene) is a wonderful alternative because it doesn’t require the engines in existing airplanes to be replaced because Bio-SPK is compatible with the current engines. Bio-SPK fuel is also great because it is more energy efficient than petroleum-based fuel, meaning that it has a greater energy output in comparison to the same volume of regular fuel.
The team developing this fuel is still working on refining the process. They are experimenting with different blends of biofuel sources, such as jatropha, algae and camelina. Jatropha, a family of plants native to Central America, has been used to make biodiesel fuel in the Philippines and Brazil. Camelina is a crop with high oil content, which has been used to produce vegetable oil. Algae, which many of us are familiar with, is a great source of energy because it yields a high amount of oil annually.
Working to refine and develop this school is a wonderful step forward. The fact that the airline industry is joining the green movement is a sign that environmentalists are going to see some real change soon. This biofuel will provide a more energy-efficient fuel with lower emissions. It will also help to make fuel costs more stable, which will enhance the quality of service throughout the airline industry.
Boeing’s website describes their efforts as such: “Boeing is helping guide the industry toward supporting the development and commercialization of a new generation of sustainable, plant-based fuel sources that offer a lower lifecycle carbon footprint and don’t compete with food and land resources. These advanced-generation sustainable biofuels afford significant environmental benefits when considered on a lifecycle basis.”
EnviroCitizen.org applauds their efforts and hopes that other companies will follow their lead and continue to research, develop and refine alternative fuels for all means of travel.
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