Can aircraft be run using cleaner fuels?

Airlines are testing flights using biofuels; “green” aircraft are being created

In answer to a question raised by a reader, if planes can be run on cleaner fuels or be electric powered, The Daily Green says that some airlines and aircraft manufacturers are taking steps to improve their eco-footprints. It is estimated that air travel accounts for around 3% of the world’s carbon emissions. But such emissions are not regulated under the Kyoto Protocol, meaning that air travel is not much greener than it was decades ago. However, airlines like Southwest and Continental have implemented fuel efficiency improvements, waste reduction programs and increased recycling. Virgin Atlantic became the first major carrier to test the use of biofuels on passenger flights in 2008. Air New Zealand, Continental, Japan Airlines, JetBlue, and Lufthansa are also testing biofuels.
Manufacturer Boeing says it is developing a carbon-neutral jet fuel made from algae, while both it and rival Airbus are testing new planes that are more fuel efficient than their predecessors. Lisa, a French company, is building the Hy-Bird, a prototype small aircraft that runs on solar power and hydrogen-powered fuel cells. Mississippi-based Hunt Aviation is creating another prototype small plane that uses helium-filled pontoons for lift-offs and gravity for landings. But until they’re on the runways, your flights can be compensated by buying a “carbon offset” from TerraPass or These organisations then use the money to fund alternative energy and other environmental projects.
The Daily Green
[photo: Trina Solar]


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