A prominent aviation company in Sweden has taken a step forward to reduce its carbon footprint by switching to sustainable fuel. In Canada, experiments are being carried out to convert Carbon Dioxide into jet fuel. By slowly switching to alternative options, what does the Aviation Industry have in store for its future?
Stockholm Arlanda, Åre-Östersund, Malmö, Göteborg Landvetter and Umeå are all airports located in Sweden. They have one other thing in common: the use of sustainable aviation fuel. Neste and Air BP are the two main producers of renewable fuels. Swedavia, the company which operates the mentioned airports, has set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Commercial airplanes conventionally operate on fossil fuel oils and this is the only other alternative as any other source like solar energy may prove inconsistent and risky for aviation. With the aviation industry being one that puts people lives at risks on a regular basis, engineers need to be doubly sure of all the materials and fuels they use. The consequences otherwise are unbearable to think about.
Neste’s sustainable fuel is produced from renewable waste and residues like cooking oil. Compared to conventional jet fuel, this will produce about 80% less greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime. This fuel is supplied by Air BP to the five airports. Air BP is said to deliver sustainable aviation fuel from 2014 to 10 airports in the Nordics. Jonas Abrahamsson, President of Swedavia has said that “Reconciling people’s need to meet with the absolute necessity to transform the transport sector and make it fossil-free is one of the most important challenges of our time. Being able to fly in a way that is environmentally sustainable is an essential requirement in order for air travel to also be a transport mode of the future that links Sweden together and links it with the rest of the world.”
In other parts of the world. Rotterdam’s The Hague Airport is said to have initiated a study to produce renewable jet fuel that can be produced from the air itself. If this can be achieved, it will result in carbon being sucked straight from the air to make clean jet fuel out of it. In Canada, a few scientists have already claimed to have extracted CO2 from the air and converted it into a mixture of petrol and diesel. The individual production is not new but if combined and scaled up, they can offer a new carbon-neutral fuel. The process is known as “air to fuels” (or A2F) and consists of three steps: CO2 is extracted from the air and purified, then clean energy like solar is used to split up the oxygen and hydrogen and finally, the CO2 and Hydrogen are synthesized into fuel such as diesel and jet fuel.
Bill Gates has encouraged this initiative in an opinion piece he wrote in 2017 where he emphasized that governments and companies need to invest in a wide range of cutting-edge energy technologies and since we don’t know yet which ones will succeed, we need to explore all options with investments from the government and the private sector.
The Aviation Industry is taking baby steps in this regard as it is imperative to tread slowly but slow and steady ultimately does win the race.