I recently came across an article in the AAA magazine, Westways, talking about sustainable travel. It was a bit basic and abbreviated, but touched on something that I had not really been aware of, something that I had to learn more about.
Air travel is the biggest contributor to CO2 emissions related to travel. The average CO2 emissions of a Boeing 747-400 international flight is about four tons of CO2 equivalent per person for a 4,000 mile flight. To put that into perspective, a typical gasoline vehicle produces 4 tons of CO2 emissions in an entire year. But don’t cancel your flight just yet. There are a number of airlines that are now using biofuels for their commercial flights because of the known fact that air travel is the biggest contributor to CO2 emissions of any long-distance travel trip.
The aviation industry is getting swept into the international movement to reduce C02 emissions partially due to a surge of eco-conscious travelers demanding greater eco accountability. By using renewable jet fuels derived from such things like algea, waste carbon, or corn-based ethanol, the airline industry may very well be able to reduce C02 emissions by at least 25% within a few short years.
“Algae is a good alternative fuel source for this industry. It’s an alternate feedstock for bioethanol refinery without the need for pretreatment. It’s lower cost than coal or natural gas. It also provides for a more efficient way of carbon capture and utilization,” says Joshua Yuan, chair of Synthetic Biology and Renewable Products in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology.
According to reportlinker.com, the biofuels industry is poised to grow by $1.31 billion between 2022 and 2026. That would be a compound annual growth rate of 6.74%. Exxon Mobil, for example, is investing $600 million in algae. Algae is highly synergistic with the established oil and gas industries, and it can be refined on the same site as is petroleum.
Airliners that have used biofuels for their commercial flights include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Azul Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Jet Blue, KLM, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Australia, and Virgin Atlantic. As for Jet Blue , it is using sustainable aviation fuel at its hub in the Los Angeles International Airport. It is working with World Energy and World Fuel Services so that it can get sustainable aviation fuel.
“Sustainable aviation fuel is one of the most promising ways to rapidly reduce air travel emissions and help our industry move toward our net-zero goals,” says Sara Bogdan, JetBlue director of sustainability.
Other tactics that eco-friendly airlines are implementing include; sustainable in-flight products, eliminating single use plastics, sourcing local food service, coating technologies to make the planes lighter, and improved aerodynamics.
The next time you are planning a vacay that includes air travel, visit the website alternativeairlines.com which allows travelers to search for flights using biofuels. While the options are limited, the site did produce some very possible alternative flight itineraries.
Happy green traveling.