With an estimated daily fuel demand of more than 5 million barrels per day, the global aviation sector is incredibly energy-intensive and almost entirely reliant on petroleum-based fuels. Unlike other energy sectors such as ground transportation or residential and commercial buildings, the aviation industry can’t easily shift to renewable energy sources using existing technologies.
However, a new analysis by scientists affiliated with Berkeley Lab’s Biosciences and the Energy Technologies Areas shows that sustainable plant-based bio-jet fuels could provide a competitive alternative to conventional petroleum fuels if current development and scale-up initiatives continue to push ahead successfully.
“Techno-economic analysis and life-cycle greenhouse gas mitigation cost of five routes to bio-jet fuel blendstocks,” published recently in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, provides promising evidence that optimizing the biofuel production pipeline – taking carbohydrate-rich plant material and using genetically modified bacteria to digest the isolated sugars into energy-dense molecules that are then chemically converted into a fuel product – is well worth the effort. For more, read the press release on the Berkeley Lab News Center.