UK promotes advanced biofuel-powered planes

Passenger planes in the UK could be powered by biofuels made from waste under a scheme to cut emissions, according to the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT).

In an announcement, the DfT said that it was keen to cut carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change. Aircraft and lorries powered by waste fuels could use up to 90% less carbon than with fossil fuels.

Trials of sustainable jet fuel made from waste materials have been performed in Europe and North America. About 70 groups have expressed interest in bidding for the DfT funding to develop similar proposals in the UK, involving the use of landfill rubbish.

The DfT said the new fuels were “chemically very similar to conventional fuels” and could be used in existing aircraft without engine modifications.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “We are committed to cutting carbon emissions and promoting new environmentally-friendly fuels that will help us meet that goal.

“We are making funding available to innovative businesses which will lead the way in developing alternative fuels that are efficient, sustainable and clean.

“We want every new car and van in the UK to be zero emission by 2040, but we know lorries and aeroplanes will rely on more traditional fuels for years to come so we must promote environmentally-friendly alternatives.”

It is hoped the government funding will help develop five new low-carbon fuel plants by 2021.

The money is available to projects producing low-carbon waste-based fuels to be used in planes and lorries that cannot use electric power because they are too heavy.

Low-carbon fuel plants by 2021

According to the DfT, the £22 (€23m) million fund could help the government to deliver up to five new low carbon fuel plants by 2021. The money is available to projects that will produce low carbon waste-based fuels, to be used in planes and lorries where it is not viable today to switch to electric power, because of the large weight of the vehicles.

The Future fuels for flight and freight competition is part of the government’s ‘Modern industrial strategy’, which sets out to support evolving industries with the potential to boost the economy.

The government is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, and transport emissions must be slashed if we are to meet that target.

Biofuels made from waste products could be even more sustainable than current crop-based biofuels, already used in some road-based vehicles.

Register now for Biofuels International 2017 for two days of essential learning to network with experts, sharpen your biofuels knowledge and improve your skills, on 4-5 October.

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