Biofuels Can Reduce Pollution from Aircrafts


Researchers found that biofuels could reduce carbon emissions and the formation of contrails

NASA developed a study in which they found how to reduce carbon particle emissions from aircrafts by 70 percent. The solution is biofuel, which can also reduce the formation of contrails, which are particles that have a negative impact on the atmosphere.

Biofuels are usually made from plants like halophyte and forest waste, such as camelina. There are already a few airline companies which use biofuel for some of their aircrafts. These companies include Virgin Atlantic and United Airlines. Also, the U.S. Air Force also uses biofuels.

Contrails are bad for the environment

NASA, as well as other researchers from Germany and Canada, were commissioned to do some tests on biofuels by the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions Study. They looked at a DC-8 aircraft which used a mix of jet fuel and biofuel. These tests were performed between 2013 and 2014 and they measured the levels of carbon emissions from the exhaust. Also, they analyzed the formation of contrails.

Contrails are formed the hot emissions from the aircraft meet the cold air found at high altitudes. Although they are only made from water vapor and ice crystals, they can be dangerous if cirrus clouds are formed. If this happens, the atmosphere might be affected. Also, soot emission facilitates the formation of contrails and make their effects worse.

The researchers noticed a reduction in the carbon particles present in the emissions. Thus, they expect to find smaller concentrations of ice in the contrails. The use of biofuels has already reduced the carbon concentration, so they expect an improvement and a smaller impact of the emissions on the atmosphere.

Air pollution should be reduced immediately

The Air Transport Action Group found that, only in 2015, there were 780 million tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere only from aircrafts. Thus, they set the goal to use 10 percent biofuels in 2017, in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions from the industry by 80 percent in the following years.

Experts noticed that the use of biofuels can help in reducing the massive carbon emissions in the aviation industry. They have already performed 2,500 commercial flights only using such fuels and many other companies are working on making aviation more eco-friendly.

The study on the positive impact of biofuels on the environment has been published in the journal Nature and it can be found here.
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