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Researchers in the United States have found a way of turning food waste into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The conversion would reduce carbon emitted by airplanes and help divert food waste being dumped into landfills.
Food waste gives rise to methane gas, affecting climate change. Researchers claim that the 'wet waste' can be turned into a kind of paraffin that powers jet engines and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 165 per cent, BBC reported.
The aviation industry has been facing difficulty in meeting the increased demand for flying and cutting down emissions from the sector at the same time.
According to the report, converting wet waste to paraffin is similar to making biodiesel for cars and other heavy vehicles. Creating a synthetic fuel requires the use of vegetable oils, waste fats, oil and grease. It is used to produce diesel.
For jet fuel, an additional step is required in the process. The researchers have developed an alternative method to turn food waste, animal manure, and wastewater into jet hydrocarbon.
They used a form of catalytic conversion to upgrade the VFA to two different forms of sustainable paraffin. After combining the two forms, the researchers could blend 70 per cent of the mixture with regular jet fuel while still meeting the rigorous quality criteria that Federal authorities impose on aircraft fuel in the country.
"Being able to show that you can take these volatile fatty acids and that there's a simple way to turn it into jet fuel - that's where I see the broader applicability of this one, and folks can continue to develop and refine it," said Derek Vardon, lead author on the study and senior research engineer at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Synthetic fuel produces around 34 per cent less soot (black powdery substance consisting of amorphous carbon) than current standards. Using synthetic fuel in airplanes can limit the CO2 emissions generated after burning fossil fuels, as well as get rid of the methane gas that bubbles up from landfills due to food waste.
The team plans to begin test flights with Southwest Airlines in 2023.
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