Aviation also has plans to ride the green wave. Alternative energy sources are an option for the sector to meet goals for the reduction of CO2 emissions and still remain profitable. However, this dream is a long way from coming true.
The main challenge faced by aircraft manufacturers, as defined by a panel at the Ethanol Summit, is to develop a biofuel which can adapt to existing technology in planes fueled by fossil fuels. Ethanol, for example, does not offer the proper characteristics for use in aviation. Among other things, its reduced energy potential would make it necessary to carry thousands of liters per flight, rendering its use unviable.
“With today’s technology, it would be necessary to modify the structure of commercial aircraft due to the technical incompatibility of the fuselage,” explained Guilherme Freire, director of Technology and Environmental Strategy for Embraer. According to Mr. Freire, it would not be viable to adapt airplanes to fuel requirements due to cost constraints, but it is possible to invent a fuel that can be carried by current aircraft and suits their engines. “We also have to guarantee reserves, therefore a product which has been tested and is available on a large scale will be required,” added Jim Kinder, senior fuel engineer at Boeing.
An American Biotechnology company is currently involved in a project for the development of bio-kerosene together with GE (General Electric), Embraer and Azul Brazilian Airlines. The project hopes to produce bio-kerosene before the end of the decade. Jointly, the companies are developing technology for the production of bio-kerosene by fermenting sucrose extracted from biomass. The first experimental flight is scheduled for 2012.