Biofuel aviation in the coming decade?

A recent article Published by Forbes wrote that within a decade the majority of jet fuel for passenger planes will be plant derived. This goal has received criticism and concerns from environmentalist worried that the tremendous needs for plant oil by the airline companies will accelerate the rate of forest destruction and conversion of cropland from food to fuel. The focuses of the airlines however are fuels that cause minimal environmental destruction and crops that will not affect the food industry.  The article notes that airlines emit roughly 2 percent of human-caused greenhouse gasses which is the reason that the airline companies are pressured to incorporate biofuels into their industry.

Since 2008, five test flights have been conducted using up to 50 percent biofules. The mixes are primarily comprised of jatropha and algae and were tested by different airlines. Although such test flights indicate progress their implications are not as incredible as one would think. In a second article commenting on Continental Airlines, one of the airline companies to successfully fly a plan using fuel composed of 50% biofuels, their tone is less impressed by this accomplishment. Although the progress to be able to make such a flight with half fossil fuel and half biofuels is noteworthy, it will not be the norm anytime soon because the jatropha oil used “cannot yet scale to the business needs of an fuel-dependent industry such as commercial aviation” and the algae, which “performs well in the lab, but is not ready for wide distribution”.


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