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Environmental life-cycle impact of alternative aviation fuels
Cox, Kelly The Boeing Company, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
- Feedstock overview
- Assigning impacts to coproducts
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
As world fuel prices increase and people become more aware of the role of fossil fuels in creating carbon emissions, there is an increased need for alternative aviation fuels that are renewable, sustainable, and economically viable. The aviation industry currently creates 2% of worldwide carbon emissions and 12% of emissions from the transport sector, but alternative aviation fuels produced from renewable feedstocks have the potential to reduce fuel life cycle emissions by up to 80%. While it has been demonstrated that commercial flights can be flown successfully using a range of different alternative fuels and blends, feasibility assessments of such fuels must include an evaluation of compliance with regulatory bodies' requirements and quantification of reductions in environmental emissions. One method that identifies the potential environmental impacts of producing aviation fuel from alternative sources is life-cycle assessment (LCA). LCA accounts for emissions from the entire life cycle of the fuel, from growing and harvesting the feedstock in the field through refining the fuel to its combustion in an aircraft. LCA studies are becoming increasingly popular as more alternative fuels are investigated; one example is the study conducted in 2010 by Russell W. Stratton, Hsin Min Wong, and James I. Hileman, which analyzed greenhouse gas emissions for a range of potential aviation fuel feedstocks in the United States, including soybean, palm, jatropha, and algae oil. The study also applied different LCA methods and feedstock yield rates to each pathway in order to show the sensitivity of the results to various model assumptions. There are numerous possible feedstock-to-fuel pathways that can be modeled, many of which are still on a lab scale and not yet ready for commercialization. See also: Green aviation
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