Who knew that animal poo could be converted into jet fuel for commercial airlines? Well, it can! United Airlines will begin regular flights between LA and San Francisco which will run on 30% biofuel. This fuel is a combination of farm waste and traditional jet fuel. Testing has reported no loss in engine performance and there are no noticeable disadvantages for passengers (vis-à-vis unpleasant odours).
The entire aviation industry has been under media scrutiny for its substantial carbon footprint, as they account for 2% of worldwide greenhouses gas emissions. United’s Managing Director for Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, Angela Foster-Rice, said in a press conference that “This partnership underscores United’s efforts to be a leader in alternative fuels as well as our efforts to lead commercial aviation as an environmentally responsible company”. The use of green bio jet fuel can reduce greenhouse gas emission by as much as 80% when compared to tradition fuel. Kudos to United Airlines for setting an example for the industry.
United Airlines must really believe that this animal poo is the fuel of the future as they just signed an agreement with Fulcrum BioEnergy guaranteeing the purchase of 15 million gallons of biofuel over the next 3 years with the option to purchase more. They have also made a 30 million dollar equity investment in this up and coming biofuel supplier which should expedite green biofuels mainstream acceptance. Sounds pretty good so far, right?
But wait, there’s more… Fulcrum also converts household trash into jet fuel and bio diesel. Agricultural waste and household garbage are not inputs for any other competing industries and are, obviously, quite abundant. This innovation is changing worldwide problems into solutions that have no functional disadvantages and are price competitive. It would be logical to assume that as fossil fuels become more expensive to extract, we will be hearing a lot more about this emerging industry. Interesting enough, this technology dates back as far as the 13th century. The process in itself is quite simple. Trash and agricultural waste are contained in an air tight, oxygen free tank and allowed to ferment. This creates methane and carbon dioxide which can be used as fuel. A little refining, and voila – we have jet fuel. Of course, there’s probably a little more to it than that, but using waste that is otherwise a problem to create competitively priced fuel which dramatically cuts back on greenhouse gas seems like a win-win-win situation.
Still Not Convinced?
Check out this video that shows how a single dairy farm can generate $1,000,000 worth of electricity from cow poop.
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