Food Waste Purported as Basis for Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences details a way to transform food scraps, used cooking oil, animal manure, and wastewater sludge into jet fuel with a carbon footprint 165% lower than standard jet fuel, with emissions savings arising from diverting the food waste from landfills, as well as from avoiding using fossil fuels. 


The aviation sector has pledged to cut carbon emissions in half by 2050, but has found decarbonizing tough for the simple reason that fossil fuels have long been the cheapest and most efficient way to power planes. The U.S. uses more than 21 billion gallons of jet fuel every year, a figure that’s expected to double by 2050.

The prospect of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) easily produced from an existing, low-cost waste streams has already attracted Southwest Airlines, which is participating in trials with the researchers involved in this new study. But some environmental campaigners say waste-to-jet-fuel technology is not a viable route to decarbonizing aviation and could be a distraction from the radical changes needed to tackle the industry’s significant emissions.


The article notes, ultimately, easily the best way to cut aviation emissions is to fly less.




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