Decarbonizing the aviation industry is becoming an essential part of the ambitions of all aviation stakeholders. The proportion of sustainable fuel used in aviation will reach 10% in 2030, compared with less than 1% today.
The aviation sector represents 5% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, there are the condensation trails left by the planes and the CO2 emitted by the combustion of kerosene. All this is expected to worsen with the explosion of air traffic.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG): A solution to reduce carbon footprint.
LNG has several advantages. It emits 25 to 30 percent less CO2 than conventional Jet-A1 fuel, allows for an 80 percent reduction in nitrous oxide emissions, and the specific energy is higher than that of jet fuel. In other words, a theoretical Airbus A340 flight from Munich to New York burning 55 tons of Jet-A1 would consume only 47 tons of LNG, according to TGE Gas Engineering’s calculation.
However, despite its advantages, it must be recognized that the liquefaction process consumes energy. LNG must be kept at a temperature of -170°C (-274°F). And there is always evaporation.
The use of LNG also implies a modification of the aviation fuel infrastructure. But does it make sense to change infrastructure to continue using a fossil fuel?
The answer would be yes, in the short term, according to Thierry Dubois, Aviation Week’s France Bureau Chief. LNG could be used as a transition to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Methane can be produced from biomass. It can also be the result of a power-to-gas process using atmospheric CO2 and renewable energy.
Heading towards a 100% sustainable fuel
Airbus, which already delivers its aircraft with a biofuel blend, has just tested a first flight in Toulouse using 100% sustainable fuel. This is a world first with SAF fuel made from biomass (vegetable waste, recycled household waste, used cooking oil, etc.).
The aircraft manufacturer and other aviation industry players will launch a study to measure the effects of 100% sustainable fuel on aircraft emissions and performance.
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