Changes are inevitable, new technologies bloom up every day from unimaginable corners of the earth. But talking about the rate of adoption of these untested ideas we are definitely reluctant to introduce it on an enterprise scale, induction of untested ideas in aerospace would be a clear NO.
From the day one, flights are powered almost the same way using fossil-based fuels, precisely speaking “The Unpleasant way”. Every year Aviation industry is responsible for 5% of global CO2 Emission. Viewed from the ground, airplanes appear clean and efficient. They fly at fantastic speeds with no apparent effort, leaving behind only thin streams of puffy white clouds.
In Reality, Burning a Kilogram of Aviation Jet-A fuel exhausts 3.2Kg of Carbon based emissions. The combined effect of all of these pollutants multiplies the global warming impact of aviation. At this rate, the size of the industry will double in 15 years and triple in 23. Scientists expect aviation carbon dioxide emissions to double by 2030. Since the engines are powered by turbine technology which uses extreme heat and pressure there wasn’t a viable way to rotate the shafts without the help of high octane petroleum derivatives.
So what about electric power why can’t we use that? Yeah, in the last few years we were witnessing the Cambrian explosion of electric automobiles, some are market ready products like Tesla’s Model S which raised the bar for new heights, these li-ion powered machines harnessed the sheer capability of power cells from the scale of a mobile phone to a two-seater Ferrari equivalent. But as of now, the power cells are still in infancy to replace the engine of an energy monster. Hypothetically even if such a technology exists we cannot scratch a $5 million jet engine with a thousand hours of working life still left, economically it’ll not just scoop a chunk of money from the company’s pocket, literally it will make a hole in its wallet.
Tesla Model S
We cannot sit idle and watch our home breaking down; we are not afforded to wait longer with this magnitude of carbon footprints. We need to act fast to take part in the global eco-run. So there should be an ad-hoc solution without replacing the existing infrastructure. Thus the focus on Drop-in Alternative was initiated a few years back.
Though it is been extensively used in the automobile industry for more than a decade, Due to the diverse operating condition of an aircraft with variables in Altitude, pressure, and temperature Aviation Authorities were not so comfortable for a green light.
What changed in 2014? Why now?
Earlier this year, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) revised the ASTM for jet fuel standard, paving the way for airlines to use Synthesized Iso-Paraffin farnesane as a jet fuel component in commercial airlines globally.
Amyri, an industrial bioscience company, partnered with Brazilian airline, GOL, to fly the industry’s first commercial flight with farnesane. The first flight, GOL flight 7725, departed from Orlando, Florida on July 30, 2014 at 5:15 PM ET and traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
GOL committed to fly its Boeing 737 fleet with up to a 10 percent blend of the renewable farnesane fuel starting with this initial flight on July 30, 2014. Amyri claims, Farnesane can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 80 percent compared to petroleum fuels. When blended with Jet A/A1 fuel at 10 percent, farnesane can also reduce particulate matter emissions, decreasing pollution near airports and major metropolitan areas.
The development of farnesane by the Amyris-Total venture and its first commercial use by GOL Airlines was just one of the many emerging developments in the implementation of alternative jet fuels into the aviation industry.
Another Aviation history was made later this year, September 29th in the high desert at the Reno-Stead Airport when an L-29 military aircraft piloted by Carol Sugars and Douglas Rodante succeeded in completing the world’s first jet flight powered solely by 100% biodiesel fuel. The Czechoslovakian-made aircraft is rated to fly on a variety of fuels including heating oil, making it the preferred platform for testing biodiesel in jet engines.
The experimental test flights were conducted starting with a blend of jet fuel and biodiesel. The engine data was measured and the performance was evaluated and found acceptable for continued use, eventually resulting in the landmark flight using 100% renewable biodiesel fuel. Flight tests were conducted up to an altitude of 17,000 feet showing no significant difference in performance compared to conventional jet fuel. The very idea of using 100% biodiesel to fly a jet aircraft makes a compelling statement about the possibilities for the future of renewable energy and a healthier planet.
The global aviation industry has committed to aggressive goals to reduce its GHG emissions, including achieving carbon neutral growth by 2020. These test programs were unique and exciting opportunity to show what can be done with renewable fuels. The Development of sustainable, reliable and green fuels seems promising to begin a new era in the coming years.
Jul 31, 2014 | Amyris Press Release
Worlds FIRST Biofuel-Powered Jet Flight
Sep 29, 2014 | Green Flight International Press Releases