Every year in the UK 18 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill. When food waste piles up here, it rots for decades, emitting a tremendous amount of methane gas. This harmful hazardous gas leaks through the air and can cause warming of the earth’s atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Researchers in the US have now found a way in which they can use our food waste to turn it into a type of paraffin (hydrocarbon liquid that is burned as a fuel) that works in jet engines; contributing to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 165% compared to fossil energy, from both the reduction in carbon emitted from aeroplanes plus diverting food waste from landfill.
The Process of Creating Paraffin
The process involved turns food waste, animal manure and water waste into jet hydrocarbon. The researchers found a way in which they were able to use this ‘wet-waste’ so that it produced volatile fatty acids instead of methane, that they were then able to use a catalytic conversion to create the paraffin from the fatty acids into this sustainable fuel. This new fuel also produces 34% less soot than current fuels in use.
The Benefits of The New Sustainable Fuel
Flying is the most damaging way to travel for the climate: Worldwide, flights produced 915 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019. With carbon dioxide levels at a record high, the heat keeps close to the earth’s surface, resulting in the greenhouse effect. The use of fossil fuels is the leading cause of climate change, and having this new solution for jet fuel can substantially impact the sustainability of the planet. Other solutions such as battery-powered aeroplanes have been in circulation; however, searching for a new sustainable alternative to replace jet fuel has been at the top of many researcher’s lists. This process has double the effect on deducting emissions from both C02 and methane, making it an incredible result from scientists. The new fuel is planned to be used in test flights in 2023 and hopefully, will be the start of lowering our carbon footprint worldwide from air travel.