Traditional aircrafts use refined kerosene as a fuel source which at today’s oil prices cost is around $5 per gallon. A Boeing 747 holds 63,346 gallons of fuel, which comes out to be an astonishing (close to) $300,000 . Hence more efficient and cheaper fuels are significantly important for aircrafts companies as their main goal is to reduce costs which can be done by choosing an alternate energy source. Sustainable energy for aviation is also a critical topic as the aviation industry is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Biofuels: Biofuels are a type of natural fuel source that can be made from natural resources such as food crops, human waste and algae, this allows biofuels to be carbon neutral resources. Additionally biofuels would drastically reduce costs as food waste is in great proportion:one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally.
Hydrogen: Electric motors in aircraft can be powered by hydrogen, which is the first element of the periodic table and is the most commonly found element in the entire universe. Producing hydrogen is very expensive and energy consuming. But it’s unique compared to other fuels as it only produces water vapour as a byproduct allowing it to be a carbon zero fuel: a fuel that produces no emissions.
Electric Propulsion: At the moment, electric aircrafts that use batteries are being developed:though there are still many problems. Solar energy can increase the efficiency and range of electric aircraft, even though it might not be enough for commercial aviation on its own.
Hybrid-electric aircraft: These aircraft would use a combination of electric power and conventional aviation fuels. The goals of these technologies are to increase fuel efficiency, lower pollution and to reduce fuel costs.
written by Hemal Nayyar