As with the general transport industry, the aviation sector needs a substitute for the fossil fuels that form the basis of jet fuel.
Aviation fuel is understandably constrained by a stricter set of safety, technological and regulatory requirements than ground fuels used in cars, trucks and other land-based vehicles, and often contains additives to reduce the risk of icing or explosion due to high temperatures, amongst other properties.
Jet fuel is the most common fuel for large aircraft operated typically by airlines and military. It is a clear to straw colored fuel, based on either an unleaded paraffin oil (Jet A-1), or a naphtha-kerosene blend (Jet B). It is similar to diesel fuel, and can be used in either compression ignition engines or turbine engines.
The only ‘alternative fuel’ which is able to meet all of the environmental, economic and technical challenges for the aviation industry is aviation fuel which has been derived from biomass (crops, plants, trees, algae, used oils, animal fats and other organic matter).
Ongoing fuel tests, demonstration flights and proven refining technology have given the aviation industry the confidence that bio-derived jet fuel blends can be created to meet the industry’s stringent safety and technical fuel standards. One class of bio-derived jet fuel was certified in 2009 and a second covering most other biomass sources was approved in 2011.