Space and Aviation

Boeing To Make Plane That Will Fly 100% on Biofuel By 2030

The global leader of planemaker Boeing commits to make aircraft that will be able to fly on 100% biofuel. The company calls it a “challenge of our lifetime” whose primary goals are to reduce carbon emission that causes environmental damage.

Boeing has already succeeded in making the world’s first commercial flight that flew on 100% biofuel, back in 2008 which was flown by the Virgin Atlantic.

The US-based company says that they will never stop researching about other forms of biofuels or sustainable fuels like hybrid-electric and hydrogen propulsion systems that are termed as “carbon-reducing technologies”

Nevertheless, Boeing will be focusing on Sustainable Aviation Fuels(SAF) which also include biofuel. The company highly believes that the Aviation Industry can reduce carbon emission to half to 2005 levels, fulfilling the IATA goals by 2050.

Sean Newsum, Boeing’s director of Sustainability strategy says “We are putting this emphasis on sustainable fuels because we believe this is the most feasible way to reach our ambitions.” The US planemaker also says that their goal is to reduce carbon emission by 50% by 2050 and will work on the jets that require advanced fuel-blending, and safety certification by the global leaders. 

“It’s a tremendous challenge, it’s the challenge for our lifetime,” Newsum told Reuters.

To complete the goal of reducing carbon emission by 50%, Boeing only has a decade left to prepare biofuels for its jet because the jetliners that start their take off in 2030 will be likely to fly till 2050.

Boeing’s CEO and President Stan Deal addresses “Our Industry and Customer are committed to addressing climate change, and sustainable aviation fuels are the safest and most measurable solution to reduce aviation carbon in the coming decades”.  He further adds that the company is committed to working with global regulators, engine companies, and other key stakeholders so that the company’s airplanes and eventually the aviation industry will fly on sustainable jet fuels.

And Boeing is not going to start from scratch. It has been done before, and it will do it again. Back in 2018, Boeing released a FedEx Corp 777 freighter, that used 100% biofuels, and FedEx uses it as an EcoDemonstrator program.

In January, Etihad Airways became the first operator to demonstrate to fly the world’s first passenger flight by using sustainable fuel that is made from a plant that grows in saltwater. This flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam was a result of three years research project collaborated with Etihad, Boeing, and several other organizations.

However, the company suffered a major hit back when the best-selling jetliners were grounded for 20 months after its fatal crashes, which caused the manufacturer a financial burden of $2.5 billion in penalty.

Meanwhile, Boeing’s rival company European Airbus SE also plans to focus on carbon reduction by weight and drag reduction on its new aircraft.

Previously known as Sustainable fuels, biofuels are simply renewable fuels and alternative fuels. Most often, Biofuels are produced from agro-based waste materials like agriculture and forestry residues, chicken tallow, cooking oils, mainly referred to as “bio-based feedstock” says Newsum.

Interestingly, biofuels can also be prepared from gasses generated by Steel mills, and CO2 pulled from the air by a process called direct air capture. Additionally, we don’t have to worry about emitting CO2 from burning biofuels, as the carbon is already absorbed by plants, which will make an almost “neutral impact” according to IATA.

IATA’s have strict regulations against producing biofuels. IATA won’t allow the use of sustainable fuels, if it is produced from “anything that diverts land use from food crops, or destroys the forest, or consumes too much freshwater because that’s simply not sustainable”.

Recently, on a mission to save the environment,  Qatar Airways also decided to settle half of the A380 fleet on the ground. Meanwhile, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), they are working on a project to develop aviation biofuels, that help to reduce carbon dioxide emission as well as decrease the import amount of food by nearly 85%.

Sean Schwinn, the vice president of Strategy and market development of Boeing International quotes “The technology shows significant promise to transform coastal deserts into productive farmland supporting food security and cleaner skies”.

Thus, we are likely to see different bodies working together to bring biofuel in use in the aviation industry.

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