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Alternative Fuel To Lower the Carbon Footprint

Regular petroleum-based jet fuels are not renewable and generate a significant amount of pollutants. 

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía

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It is no secret that the aviation sector is constantly growing, and with this expansión, carbon dioxide emissions are expected to rise as well. However, Jet Biofuel has been studied as an ecological alternative to lower the carbon footprint of the aviation sector.

According to a report by W. Tyner,  the aviation sector is growing at an annual rate of 5%. A study by Fahey and colleagues revealed that this sector contributes to 5% of the net radiating forcing of climate and 2.6% of global CO2 emissions, the percentage that will grow constantly according to predictions of the expansión of the aviation sector. As mentioned by IPCC in a 1999 report, the demand for Jet fuels is expected to increase by 38% between 2008 and 2025.

Bearing in mind the mentioned situation, Jet Biofuel has been studied as an alternative technology to lower the carbon footprint of the aviation sector. Various types of raw oils and solid biomass resources have been analyzed. In this quest, hydroprocessing of Jatropha Curcas has been exposed as a realistic alternative. Jatropha Curcas is a small tree that has shown ecological advantages, such as an ability to grow fast, tolerance to harsh weather conditions, and poor soil. It has also been shown to resist various diseases. It needs low amounts of water compared to other energy crops.

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The main advantage of utilizing alternative Jet Biofuels is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, Jatropha represents a good option since it requires low amounts of water and energy for growing. According to Meyer and colleagues, processing Jatropha in an adequate manner could potentially reduce the net greenhouse gas emissions by 75% when compared to Jet-A emissions.

The first airline to test-fly a jet plane powered by Biofuel was Virgin Atlantic Airways in 2008, which flew a Boeing 747-400 from London to Amsterdam. One of its four tanks contained a 20% blend of biofuel with coconut and babassu oil. Then came Air New Zealand with a 747-400. One of its four engines contained a blend of 50% jet fuel and 50% biofuel. The biofuel used was made from Jatropha. It is worth mentioning that Boeing claimed it would deliver commercial airplanes able to fly on 100% biofuel by 2030, to reduce environmental damage. Sean Neusum, Boeing’s director of sustainability strategy told Reuters “Aviation is committed to doing its part to reduce its carbon footprint.” 

Taking into account the considerable carbon footprint of conventional jet fuel, Jatropha curcas represents a great alternative aviation fuel that is renewable and produces less impact on the environment and climate change. It is also non-edible and can be produced at low costs.