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  • Animal fat, mustard seeds, garbage, and used cooking oil...

  • are just some of the products being used to make jet-fuel.

  • Airlines have been experimenting with biofuels for years.

  • But because of inconsistent investment, the lure of cheap oil, and high production costs...

  • Biofuels still account for less than 0.1% of total aviation fuel consumption.

  • While airline efforts to ramp up biofuel use may be delayed as they struggle to weather

  • the global pandemic, environmental impact becoming a top issue means more wide-spread

  • use is likely to take place in the coming years.

  • This is your Bloomberg Quicktake on aviation turning to biofuel.

  • In the past, the use of biofuels was usually driven by a lack of petrochemicals.

  • For example, in World War Two, there were fuel shortages in many countries as they couldn't

  • import as they usually would.

  • This led to a lot of non oil producing countries coming up with inventions to make

  • fuel from resources that they did have, such as grains or vegetables.

  • When the shortage ended, so did the interest in biofuels.

  • Global demand for biofuel rose when oil prices were high.

  • When they came back down, so did the demand for biofuel.

  • Nowadays, the motivation around biofuels is more around environmental reasons.

  • Global warming is wreaking havoc on the planet, and aviation is among the worst polluters.

  • With about 10,000 planes in the air at any given moment during normal times, they account

  • for 3% of all carbon emissions.

  • One economy-class, round-trip flight from New York to London is all it takes to generate

  • the same amount of carbon pollution as powering every lightbulb, phone, television, computer

  • and kitchen appliance in the average American's home for 2 months.

  • And it's only going to get worse.

  • By 2038 the number of air passengers is set to double what it is now.

  • Marine sector, for example, or aviation have all committed to reduce their carbon emissions.

  • And biofuels will play a key role for those industries which have limited other alternatives.

  • You can't electrify an airplane as easily as you can electrify a passenger car.

  • Batteries are not only extremely heavy, power output and cooling systems would have to be

  • improved for the requirements of taking off and landing.

  • Although electric-flight technology is in testing for small planes, progress on a larger

  • scale will likely be measured in decades, not years.

  • Biofuels are generally made using chemical reactions, fermentation, and heat to break

  • down the starches, sugars, and other molecules in plants.

  • The resulting products are then refined to produce a fuel that vehicles can use.

  • Burning biofuel from renewable sources such as waste oil, lumber, and algae produces less

  • CO2 than fossil fuels.

  • So biofuels contain a lot fewer pollutants in their chemical structure and therefore

  • they burn cleaner.

  • And because plants absorb CO2 when they're growing, this offsets the carbon that's emitted

  • when they're burned.

  • Next generation biofuels go a step further by making use of waste that humans already create.

  • One of the largest producers is Finnish oil giant Neste, which supplies airlines and airports

  • with fuel made from waste products such as fat or vegetable oil.

  • With a new refinery in Singapore on the way, Neste says it will have the capacity to produce

  • over 1 million tons of sustainable aviation fuel by 2022.

  • Furthermore, governments and regulators are starting to encourage the use of biofuel.

  • The International Air Transport Association has set a target for all airlines to reduce

  • carbon emissions by 50% by 2050.

  • Norway is even requiring airlines to use a 0.5% mixture of biofuel on all flights.

  • Which may not seem like a lot, but requirements that are too high can be counterproductive.

  • Because bio jet fuel is currently three to four times more expensive than fossil jet fuel,

  • airlines fueling in these countries that are enforcing blending mandates might be incentivized

  • to carry more amounts of fuel so they don't have to buy as much in those more expensive countries.

  • Carrying more fuel, makes your aircraft heavier and therefore could create more emissions.

  • And there are other hurdles:

  • if scaled up, fuel made from waste products may not have enough supply to meet demand.

  • And not all biofuels are environmentally friendly.

  • If they're made from products like corn, it can cost vast amounts of resources: water,

  • land, and fertilizer that causes pollution.

  • It can lead to food price increases or deforestation to clear the land to grow these crops.

  • One example of this is for palm oil, which has led to deforestation in countries such

  • as Indonesia and Malaysia.

  • This is why it's important to keep developing new technologies to diversify the feedstocks

  • that we can use like agricultural residues or municipal solid waste to make bio jet fuel.

  • For widespread use of jet biofuel, diversifying feedstocks along with government incentives

  • to make biofuels cost competitive with fossil fuels is needed to finally hit carbon emissions targets.

  • Which experts say will ultimately reduce the aviation industry's carbon footprint by

  • up to 80%.

Animal fat, mustard seeds, garbage, and used cooking oil...


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