Green Tech Chatter: Biofuel And Airplanes

In an effort to cut down on carbon emissions produced by the hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks on the road every day, alternative fuels, namely electricity and hybrid powers, are making great strides in becoming the vehicles of the future. But cars and trucks aren’t the only way people get around. Airplanes notoriously use huge amounts of fuel, and up until recently, this fuel was petroleum-based. But as the concern over the non-sustainability of fossil fuels mounts, some airlines are looking to alternatives.

Image via Alaska Airlines

Recently, Alaska Airlines flew 75 commercial flights using planes powered with biofuels, which were derived mainly from used cooking oils, like the kinds found in deep-fryers. While biofuels can be pricey at this stage for airlines, they are hoping that with more research, biofuels can be a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Alaska’s flights used a mixture of biofuel and traditional petroleum-based fuel, and the choice to use old cooking oil was made so that biofuel collection would not compete with or otherwise put a strain on food production. Now, other airlines are looking into petroleum alternatives as well. Check out some of the links below to learn about this new trend in aviation.

Alaska Airlines gives you the rundown of its biofuel flights.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack breaks down the benefits of using biofuels for airplanes on BayNet. com.

Dvice, R&D Magazine, and Komo News cover the recent completion of the 75 commercial biofuel flights by Alaska Airlines.

Wired offers a first-hand look at being on one of Alaska’s flights.

The Seattle Times, via South Coast Today, and Newser talk about those 75 Alaska Airlines flights, and offers a critical look at the use of biofuels from an economic as well as an environmental standpoint.

Tomorrow is Greener talks about how United Airlines, inspired by Alaska’s biofuel flights, performed their own first biofuel flight, this time using a mixture of algae biofuels.

Over the summer, planes powered by biofuel and solar power were exhibited at the Paris Air Show. See where the biofuel idea went public at France 24.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.