[USA] The air transportation sector is turning slowly toward sustainable fuels as part of the global fight against climate change.
But adoption has been delayed due to a lack of incentives and low oil prices.
“It’s very urgent to develop these alternative fuels,” said Michel Wachenheim of the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA).
“There is no reason to be satisfied with the situation.”
Despite an expected increase in airline traffic, the aviation industry is the first commercial sector to commit itself to limiting carbon emissions within 20 years, through a binding mechanism.
But to achieve that goal, the industry must look at a variety of options.
Even partially replacing jet fuel with sustainable biofuels can make an impact. That is one of the four options favored by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which convened a panel of experts on Wednesday and Thursday in Montreal to address the dilemma.
Lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft, optimized flight plans, or turning off jet engines while on the tarmac also would help to cut emissions.
But meeting the 20-year commitment will require widespread adoption of alternative fuels that produce less carbon emissions over their life cycle than jet fuel produced from petroleum.
The ultimate goal is to make a fuel-equivalent to jet fuel, but those processes still are under development or at an early stage of industrial production.
Hydro-treated oils, a process of converting gases into hydrocarbons, or fermentation processes such as the one being done by biotech Amyris with French oil firm Total, produce sustainable biofuels, according to the experts gathered at the ICAO.
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