A US based fuel producer is proposing to work with the Australian airline Qantas in producing green aviation bio-jet fuel for its aircraft. This would be Qantas’s second commercial scale plant for bio-fuel production, and one of several sets of negotiations between the fuel producer and other airlines including British Airways and EasyJet.
In order to comply with the EU’s carbon emissions trading scheme before its application to the aviation industry in January 2012, Qantas aims to expand its use of renewable bio-energy. By reducing airlines’ dependence on fossil fuels and instead using waste biomass to produce ‘sustainable’ biojet fuel, it is hoped the aviation industry could move closer to meeting environmental legislation in line with climate change targets.
Proponents of biojet fuel production argue that the use of biomass to produce biofuels generates no extra carbon dioxide when compared with the combustion of conventional fuel, and reduces dependency on finite fossil fuels. Critics however point out that whilst it would be beneficial to lower fossil fuel consumption, this is a separate issue to that of carbon dioxide emissions which lead to climate change. Whether or not the use of biojet fuel results in lower overall carbon emissions depends on the energy used and carbon dioxide emitted at each stage in the entire processes of the production, transportation and combustion of the biofuel itself.
Currently bio-fuels for transport are usually only used in blends of around 20% with conventional fuel. The expansion of its use in the aviation sector however could mark the next step in the development of ‘greener’ fuels, an exciting prospect for environmentalists and transport planners worldwide.
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