Carbon Neutral Passenger Planes for Green Air Travel

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Green air travel is getting popular with environmentally conscious consumers because airplanes account for 2 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Water vapor and carbon dioxide are released high in the atmosphere because of air traffic.

Possible Solutions

Scientists propose different solutions, from lighter bodies and fuel efficient engines to eco-friendly low-carbon fuels. The Alaska Airlines, for example, use a mix of synthetic fuels and kerosene. There are also bio-jet fuels that contain camelina, jatropha, and other plants. Aviation biofuels are getting more popular. They are made from tallows, algae, Babassu and other oils and plant sources. Gasification and biomass are also used to create syngas and pyrolysis oil. The main benefits of biofuels are that they offer a diversified supply and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are still an issue. Carbon dioxide is released during oil refining, transportation, production of equipment required to grow crops, and the actual production of aviation fuels. Even when these factors are taken into account, experts expect a significant reduction of carbon dioxide emissions (up to 80 percent). Furthermore, this is a way to diversify supply because aviation fuels can be produced across geographic zones and regions. Fossil fuels are produced at specific locations.

Biofuels, Lower Ticket Prices, and Potential Problems

Many people wonder whether green air travel will be cheaper or alternative fuels will increase the cost of travel. Cathay Pacific, for example, announced that green aviation fuels will cost 50 percent less than traditional fuels twenty years from now. This will result in more affordable travel and lower ticket prices. Airlines that operate in Europe already pay for their gas emissions. Using green aviation fuels makes sense if it will help reduce the amount paid for carbon emissions. Moreover, alternative fuels have a higher energy density which results in a more efficient fuel consumption. Critics point to the fact that growing fuel crops contributes to pollution and has a negative impact on land and food availability. Valuable cropland is sacrificed to grow fuel crops, and this may result in higher food prices. Deforestation is also a major problem. New technologies and equipment may be required to create sustainable biomass and alternative fuels. Airport infrastructure should be restructured in such a way as to result in a more efficient use of aviation fuels. The supply network needs to be optimized to reduce transportation costs and emissions and improve efficiency.

Carbon Neutral Flights

Green travel is growing in popularity because planes run on toxic fuels. In addition to carbon dioxide, they release particulate matter, sulphates, mono-nitrogen oxides, and other toxic compounds. Carbon neutral plants and off-peak travel are greener alternatives. Some airlines, for example, run their own carbon offset programs. These include JetBlue, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines, among others. Delta Airlines uses carbon offsets to raise funds and plant trees. This is a way to minimize pollution and the carbon footprint. American Airlines offer passengers the opportunity to buy green gifts and products and earn miles at the same time. Customers help offset gas emissions that result from heating and cooling, airplane travel, traffic, and so on. Every dollar spent on green gifts earns miles. Continental Airlines also run their program that focuses on renewable energy projects and reforestation. Continental is committed to responsible waste management, enhanced fuel efficiency, and reduction of conventional fuel use. Airline staff works in cooperation with non-for-profits, government agencies, suppliers, partners, airports, and passengers to implement good practices and protect the environment. Other companies have no carbon offsetting strategies and plans but are in the process of introducing them.

New Technologies

Boeing has produced a plain that runs on hydrogen and uses fuel cells. Hydrogen is transformed into water and electricity. The first airplane of this kind has room for 2 passengers. Airplanes that are powered by batteries are also developed and tested. The problem is that air travel grows at a rate of over 7 percent annually while new technologies help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1 percent a year. Airline companies face challenges such as higher taxes and tight competition.

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