Are green jet fuels finally ready for takeoff?

Oct. 28, 2021
A first commercial test flight shows how fuel made from plants, not petroleum, could make flying cleaner, Eric Niiler reports for Wired.

HOUSTON - When United Airlines test pilot Ryan Smith took off from Houston earlier this month for a 90-minute flight over the Gulf of Mexico, he wasn’t carrying any passengers, but he did have a special fuel powering the Boeing 737. One engine was burning standard petroleum-based aviation fuel from a Texas refinery, while the other was running on gas produced entirely from leftover cooking oil and grease from a factory in Los Angeles, Eric Niiler reports for WiredContinue reading original article.

The Intelligent Aerospace take:

October 28, 2021 -While the United flight created the same amount of carbon emissions as traditional fuel, its carbon footprint was actually 70% smaller because the plant-based fuel consumes carbon dioxide during its lifecycle.

“What we were trying to do is demonstrate that the aircraft can operate in the same capacity with sustainable fuel as with blended fuel,” says Lauren Riley, United’s managing director for global environmental affairs and sustainability. “It did. This is a true step in the path of decarbonization.”

However, there's a price to pay for sustainablilty as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) costs two to four times as much as traditional petrolium-based fuel. United uses approximately 4 billion gallons of fuel each year, but only 1 million are SAF, according to Niiler's reporting

“We’ve got some work to do,” says Riley. “But there’s not enough [SAF] to go around.”

Related: Shell, Neste sign sustainable aviation fuel supply agreement

Related: NASA-DLR study finds sustainable aviation fuel can reduce contrails

Related: Boeing and SkyNRG partner to scale sustainable aviation fuels globally

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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