It’s no secret that we have to uncover methods to make air journey extra sustainable. In the U.S. alone, air journey accounts for 10 p.c of greenhouse fuel emissions, and as the variety of flights taking off every day rises that proportion may go up. To fight this, plane builders and engine producers have begun experimenting with novel methods of powering flight, together with electrical motors and even hydrogen-powered engines. But now, one British airline will trial the primary transatlantic flight to run on one thing referred to as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
On November twenty eighth, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner will take off from London’s Heathrow on a flight to JFK in New York. But as a substitute of its two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines operating on conventional jet gas, the aircraft can be fueled for your complete journey on a sustainable various.
This can be a primary for the trade, as presently airways are solely permitted to function flights with as much as 50 p.c sustainable fuels blended in with conventional jet gas. For the check flight, Virgin Atlantic has partnered with Air BP and Virent, which is able to present a brand new gas that cuts lifecycle CO2 emissions by as a lot as 70 p.c.
To make its SAF, Air BP makes use of feedstock resembling used cooking oil and family meals waste. The waste is collected by BP, refined and become a gas that may be blended with jet gas as needed. Because of this, it’s typically referred to as a “drop-in” gas, which helps reduce among the emissions from air journey.
However, for the Virgin Atlantic flight, this gas gained’t be blended with conventional kerosene fuels, and can as a substitute be used solo – albeit blended with 12 p.c aromatics, which helps it meet the efficiency wants of the flight.
“SAF is currently the most viable option to help us meet the industry’s net zero ambition and in the short and medium term it will be the only option for long-haul flights,” mentioned Andreea Moyes, world aviation sustainability director at Air BP in a press release. “Moving our industry and policy towards the use of 100% SAF is important as we work in collaboration with key stakeholders to help decarbonize aviation.”
Prior to takeoff of the flight, Virgin Atlantic and Rolls Royce have carried out intensive floor checks of the gas within the Rolls-Royce Trent engines that energy the 787 Dreamliner. The Virgin check additionally follows a pilot undertaking from AirAsia in India, which was the primary flight to be solely powered by SAF.
Despite each the India check and this transatlantic flight relying solely on SAF, present targets solely require airways to gas their fleets with 10 p.c SAF by 2030 within the UK. Here within the U.S., the aviation trade hopes to have entry to three billion gallons of SAF by 2030. The Biden administration additionally introduced that by 2050, all home flights within the U.S. must be powered by SAF.
At its peak in 2019, the worldwide business airline trade consumed round 95 billion gallons of jet gas over the yr. In the U.S., business aviation burned by means of 1.5 million barrels of aviation gas per day final yr.