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Soaring Toward a Sustainable Future

Airplanes are one of our most important modes of transportation. Whether we are traveling to see family, to  a work event, or to explore new places, humans are constantly on the move in the air. This means that carbon emissions are coming from aircraft. The same is true for other modes of transportation like automobiles. As we know, a lot of attention is directed at cars, but what about airplanes?

Well rest assured, they are not being ignored. Organizations like NASA, Alaska Airlines, KLM, United Airlines, and Boeing to name a few have been looking into sustainable alternative  jet fuels, but what exactly does that mean?

Sustainable alternative jet fuels are environmentally friendly options for fueling an airplane. Often they are made from biomass components, such as forest debris.

Airplanes engines are designed to run on petroleum-based fuel, so in order for sustainable alternatives to be used without having to replace every airplane in rotation currently, they have to have hydrocarbon components that allow petroleum fuels to work in the engines. That, or they have to be blended with non-sustainable fuels. Either way, scientists are presented with a challenge that they are more than up for the task of.

What does alternative fuel use mean for us? Well, environmentally speaking, these fuel alternatives could decrease the overall carbon footprint by 80 percent over their lifecycle. Alternative fuels can also benefit us by expanding domestic energy sourcing, reducing greenhouse gases, encouraging economic development, and encouraging an overall healthy environment.

It’s important when thinking about climate change to include the little things along with the big. We should not only focus on car fuels, but also plane fuel, train fuel and any other form of transportation. Fortunately, this not-so-little contributor is well on its way to becoming ecofriendly.

 

Resources:

https://www.nap.edu/read/23490/chapter/8#78

http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/environment/Pages/alternative-fuels.aspx

http://www.eia.gov/workingpapers/pdf/flightpaths_biojetffuel.pdf

http://www.nasa.gov/aero/nasa-reports-alternative-jet-fuel-research-results.html

 

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