One of the biggest green movements in the aviation industry has to be the focus on trying to find the perfect biofuels to cut down the carbon emissions given off by an airplane using standard jet fuel. Many aviation companies, fuel companies, and various branches of the military in both the United States and other nations have had varying degrees of success utilizing mixes of biofuels on board test flights. The next airline that is planning on taking the plunge and hoping to convert their air fleet to a greener fuel is Qantas and they’ve got a solid deal to back them.
Qantas, an Australian airline that is frequently voted amongst the top ten best airlines in the world, has recently announced their plan to begin investing into biofuels in order to cut down on the carbon emissions their aircraft burn off. The announcement came as a part of a deal Qantas is making with a renewable energy group called Solena Group in order to build a biofuel production plant. The plant, which will be based somewhere in Australia, will be the second commercial scale biofuel plant built in the world and it is believed that it will cost a similar figure as the one attached to the world’s first commercial biofuel plant currently under construction. The plant will be responsible for producing biofuels that will be used in Qantas aircraft and will be made from organic wastes from industrial, commercial, and household sources.
The deal being struck between Qantas and Solena Group has also attracted other players interested in the biofuel business. British Airways has already made a similar deal in order to construct the first commercial scale biofuel plant in London that is believed to cost over $300 million and to begin operating sometime in 2014. German based airline Lufthansa has also expressed interest in a similar deal after announcing their own intentions to begin offering local biofuel powered flights within Germany. While other airlines have expressed interest, however, there has been some hesitation over the proposed cost of the plants and a desire to be sure that the particular biofuels such a plant would make will be right for the future of aviation.
The Qantas plant, which currently has no projected completion date, is expected to use a similar process as the currently under construction British Airways plant in order to make the biofuels. Called the Fischer-Tropsch process, it involves the creation of non-petroleum based liquid fuels and was created in the 1920s by German scientists. After extensive use during World War II by both the German and Japanese armed forces who frequently found themselves unable to acquire large oil reserves at various points in the war, it has gone on to be used by many fuel companies for various business ventures. With luck, it will now serve as the primary way of producing biofuels for aircraft around the world.
Article by Richard Cooke, appearing courtesy Justmeans.