How Biofuel for Air Transportation Can Help?

Aviation is the strongest growing transportation sector, and the trend will go on. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global aviation is expected to grow 5% each year up to 2030. So, the demand for aviation fuel will increase each year. The use of biofuel is preferred in the aviation industry because it is a cheap source of energy and has fewer carbon footprints. This article will give you an insight into the use of biofuel in aircraft. The environmental and economic impacts of fossil fuels and biofuel will help to analyze which one of both is more preferred to use.

Before getting into the topic, let’s learn the problem with fossil fuels and why we should shift to alternative sources of energy.


Why Not Fossil Fuels?


The world has been using a non-renewable source of energy for more than a hundred years. These resources include coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy. Why are they considered harmful, and why do we want to replace them? Well, the answer is quite apparent. Coal, oil, and gas reserves are dead plants and animals buried million years before. The carbon content of that material under high temperature and pressure turns out as non-renewable resources of energy that humans extract and fulfill their energy demand. These resources are depleting at an alarming rate. Moreover, emissions from the combustion of non-renewable energy resources are polluting the environment. Carbon dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and sulphur, and particulate matter all contribute to global warming. A shift from non-renewable resources to renewable resources would be helpful as they have little to no emissions. Biofuel is among such sources that reduce waste and produce useful energy products out of it.


Thank you to Jose Lebron and Unsplash for the image.
Thank you to Jose Lebron and Unsplash for the image.

Biofuel As Substitute of Fossil Fuel:


In 2011, intra-EU air transportation accounted for almost 14% of total energy consumption. So, a large portion of the energy goes for air transportation. Gaseous biofuel is not a feasible substitute for aviation. Advanced liquid biofuel is a low-carbon option for aviation.


Biofuel has found its applications in industry and now in the aviation sector as fuel for jets and airplanes. The biofuel used to power aircraft is a sustainable resource with less carbon footprint. Biofuel is a solid, liquid, or gaseous fuel produced from biomass. Biomass is burnt in anaerobic conditions – the absence of oxygen- and biofuel is produced. In 2018, around 3 percent of carbon dioxide emissions of the US were from aircraft. Substitution of biofuel in aircraft has less impact on the environment.


Furthermore, the US Department of Energy claimed that cellulosic ethanol has the potential to reduce emissions by almost 86%.


Is biofuel a sustainable solution?


Sustainable solutions are those which have benefits – environment, economics, and social – over the whole life cycle. Biofuel is a sustainable solution as compared to non-renewable energy sources. Firstly it is made of entirely renewable material – corn, waste, or sugarcane waste. So, it has almost no environmental impacts. Although cultivation of corn on a large scale does release greenhouse gases, it’s less than coal or oil. Life cycle Analysis of biofuel has shown that ethanol results in a 20% reduction of GHGs emissions compared to gasoline.


Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released from production until the end of life per unit. A study has shown that the carbon footprint of global biofuel production in 2010 was 0.248 billion gha that rose to 0.449 billion gha in 2019. Among different sources to produce biofuel, the largest carbon footprint was from jatropha and animal oil, while biofuel from molasses has the lowest carbon footprint. In comparison, coal with 78 percent carbon will emit 204 pounds of carbon per million Btu. So, biofuel is not only a clean but the cheapest source of energy as well as compared to coal or oil.


Benefits of Using Biofuel:


Advanced liquid biofuels are the cleanest aviation fuel that has less carbon footprint.

Biofuels can furnish the world’s energy needs. They are the cheaper source of energy as compared to fossil fuels because their price is increasing these days. Since biofuels come from plants and other organic materials, it becomes affordable to get biofuel from nature. Furthermore, biofuel is also prepared from the waste material of industries, so it has become a win-win situation for the industry to generate energy from waste.

Biofuel has a lesser footprint as compared to fossil fuels, so they are the most sustainable solution to cut down the emissions in air transportation. Lesser will be the emissions, and more clean will be the environment and vice versa. A cleaner environment reduces the cost of the healthcare sector and improves the overall quality of life. A clean environment also has an impact on the economy, health, and well-being of individuals.


Drawbacks of Biofuel:

Although fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource that increases the total carbon dioxide of the atmosphere, biofuel has some disadvantages. Cultivating fuel products at a large scale, such as corn and jatropha, requires land, and GHG emissions of GHGs during their cultivation are the biggest problem. Furthermore, it could lead to habitat destruction, land degradation, and fertilizer runoff.  Biofuels sometimes require the mixing of fossil fuels for efficient working. This is a significant drawback.  Biofuels are the potential source of nitrogen oxide and formaldehyde that affect human health.


Energy is essential to carry out all the life processes on Earth. It can be categorized as non-renewable and renewable resources of energy. The world is shifting towards renewable resources of energy such as wind power, hydropower, and bioenergy. Biofuel is one of the sustainable substitutes of fossil fuels in air transportation. Air transportation is responsible for a major fraction of GHGs emissions. So, biofuel is a cleaner replacement for oil. Furthermore, it is cheaper to obtain and has less carbon footprint as compared to fossil fuels. Although biofuel has its negative impacts as well, they are addressable and have far fewer consequences than fossil fuel. Therefore, the world can shift to liquid biofuel in air transportation to cut its emissions from this sector.