A Precursory Look Into Plant-based Green Jet Fuels
Jet fuels are primarily made from petroleum. Most of the jet fuel that commercial airliners use today are highly processed and are mixed with different additives, in order to keep its energy output efficiency (combustion rate) at a regulated level dictated by modern aviation standards.
With the exponential increase of the price of fossil fuels for the last few years, one of the industries that suffer the most economically is the airline industry. The price of jet fuel has inevitably risen to a point that the urgency of successfully finding an alternative is now greatly stressed.
Fortunately though, researchers have been studying and developing new different kinds of biofuel that is optimized for use in jet engines and aviation. These green jet fuels won’t be extracted from regular crops however, as they are to be produced using these three “salt-based” green sources:
Algae are perhaps one of the best known sources of alternative jet fuel today. The research to extract oil contents of algae has been going on for many years, but it has only been viewed with more interest nowadays due to the sharp rise of jet fuel prices. The method of producing the fuel is similar from the oil extraction process used in crops for vegetable oil. One of the most critical advantages of algae-based green jet fuel is that the “crop” itself is harmless to the environment, and can be grown easily without disturbing the allocated resources that would otherwise be used for food crops (for example, as opposed to corn-based ethanol).
Seaweed (and other Macroalgae)
The primary focus of algae jet fuel research is on microalgae. This is because they can be grown faster and are usually less complex (in structure). However, depending on the availability, researchers might also opt to grow and develop macroalgae such as seaweed for green jet fuel production. While there aren’t any readily available seaweed-based green jet fuels for commercial use yet, a few future aircraft designs, such as the proposed Zero Emission Hypersonic Transportation (ZEHST) plane, are already slated to use eventually seaweed oils as fuel.
Halophytes are generally plants that can survive in aquatic environments that have high salinity levels. The fuel production method in these plants again does not exactly differ from the standard extraction method of regular biofuels, but they are usually bioengineered in order to be specifically resistant to salt content that are higher that what it could usually handle. The importance of this growth method is to preserve the world’s fresh water reservoir that is supposed to be used for drinking and for growing food crops. By making these plants thrive in pure seawater, green jet fuel production farms could be set up using the larger seas and oceans. NASA is currently researching on the production of the next generation green jet fuel using halophytes.
As with all other alternative energy sources, economical viability is the primary hurdle that these green jet fuels must overcome. However, with the prices of jet fuel growing exponentially each year, it might not be long before these alternative fuels gain the upper hand both in terms of price and availability.
Reasons to JOIN US include:
- It's absolutely FREE!
- Get Green Tips You MUST know about.
- How to's on going green, saving money, and having fun.
- Keep up-to-date on our posts in cased you missed them.