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Green Fuels For Aircraft

by John M. White |

The search to find alternative energy sources for airlines has resulted in the formation of a new coalition of airlines, aircraft manufacturers and environmental groups into the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users' Group.  Among those participating are Boeing Commercial Aviation and Virgin Atlantic Airways who are seeking advice from groups such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC). Pond_scum_algae_jet_fuel_biofuel

Initially the group will focus on two potential sources of low carbon fuels - jatropha and algae.  Earlier posts on my blog discussed both of these alternative sources of fuel, and can be read at Jatropha and Algae. These two resources are being researched because production of these biofuels will not compete for food and water in their production.  Another benefit sought is to develop fuels that will encourage the participation of small farmers and local communities.

the group has agreed to adopt the standards of a global, multistakeholder process called the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) and certify - through third party verification - aviation biofuels through rigorous environmental and social screening.

There are four main goals for the group:

    • Jet fuel plant sources should      be developed in a manner which is non-competitive with food and where      biodiversity impacts are minimized; in addition, the cultivation of those      plant sources should not jeopardize drinking water supplies.
    • Total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from plant growth, harvesting, processing, and end-use should be significantly reduced compared to those associated with jet fuels from fossil sources.
    • In developing economies, development projects should include provisions or outcomes that improve socio-economic conditions for small-scale farmers who rely on agriculture to feed them and their families, and that do not require the involuntary displacement of local populations.
  • High conservation value areas and native eco-systems should not be cleared and converted for jet fuel plant source development.

At the first "Eco-Aviation" conference in Washington last June the Chairman of Air New Zealand proclaimed that now was the time to tackle aviation's role in climate change.  In February of this year Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic demonstrated the viability of biofuels for aviation in a short clip called "Airline Uses Biofuels".

This meeting was the begining of what would soon become the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Users' Group which was launched on 9/26/2008 to address the lack of federal government leadership in developing low carbon fuels for aviation.  Once again aviation pushes the envelope in pushing the technology front which always winds up benefiting society as a whole.

You can read more at "Charting a Greener Course for Aviation Fuels".

Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!












"High Flight"






Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,



And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;



Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth



Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things



You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung



High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,



I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung



My eager craft through footless halls of air.



Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue



I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace



Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.



And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod



The high untrespassed sanctity of space...



...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.






by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.


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