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Do Alternative Aviation Fuels Reduce Greenhouse Gases?

by John M. White |

As the U.S. government moves towards more energy independence and pushes for more "green energy", the aviation industry struggles to come to grips with the problem, particularly with respect to 100LL for general aviation aircraft. Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Aircraft While 100LL remains a problem, the airlines are moving forward with plans to produce jet fuel from plants and algae, and in a recent article in BCA by Graham Warwick he discusses the conclusions of a report prepared by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the FAA and the U.S. Air Force.


In a surprising development the study showed that fuel produced from algae could produce 2.21 times the greenhouse gasses that are generated by petroleum based jet fuel. The variable here had to do with decisions about how to source the carbon dioxide to grow the algae, how to dewater and dry the algae and whether the solid residue is burned for power or sold for feed after extracting the oil.


The report indicated that none of the fossil fuel sources like shale oil, oil sands, coal or gas showed any significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, biofuels showed the possibility of a 100% reduction in greenhouse gases, but raised concerns about land use, water consumption and invasive species. So far it seems there is no definitive solution to the problem, but that work continues towards a solution. The real question is can we get a solution in time? Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!

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