The world is collectively working towards a more sustainable future due to the exploitation of resources, which has continued for decades, and the environmental threats resulting from it. In line with this, airline companies committed in the year 2021 to carbon-neutral growth and are looking at more sustainable types of jet fuels.
It has been reported that Global Air Travel consumes close to100 billion gallons or more of jet fuel in a year. Looking at the future consumer demands, it is projected to double by 2025 despite the current pandemic. Hence, airlines have started looking at alternatives that could be used as jet fuel and reduce carbon emissions.
Airlines in the United States are set to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 50% by the year 2050, with 2005 as the base year. However, to achieve this goal, emissions need to be reduced. In this regard, electricity would not be of much use as they can only power small planes covering short distances. The only way to reduce emissions is with Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), i.e., liquid fuels with a lower carbon footprint.
SAF, to be a futuristic solution, needs to be safe for use. Thus, the new fuel shouldn't harm the engines of the jet and shouldn't freeze at high altitudes. Moreover, it needs to have a low flashpoint, which would ensure safe refueling on the ground. Another way of reducing carbon emissions is by reducing the cost of sustainable materials, which might be reduced by looking at non-traditional biomass. The idea of using non-traditional waste material as fuel instead of the typical usage of specific crops like corn for the production of fuel is taking root. Jet fuel can be made by various discarded materials that could be sources of carbon like municipal solid waste, sewage junk, waste gasses like carbon monoxide, and deconstructed plastic. Fats, agricultural, and forest residue can also be treated to produce high-quality intermediates by treating them with existing biological or thermal processes.
To lessen the carbon emissions, it is required to expand the production capacity and gradually shift towards fuel with improved properties. Bio-refineries will be used to convert low-cost biomass and waste into fuels. Moreover, such fuel will need to be versatile. While in its earlier stages, the SAF industry will have to be cost-competitive against petroleum refineries and have to consider supply chains, feedstocks, infrastructure, storage, delivery, etc., which may add to the cost of fuel.
Players in the sustainable aviation fuels market will have to be cost-competitive with petroleum-based fuels, as fuel makes up about 30% of the airline's operating cost.
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