KLM biofuel-powered airliner (KLM)Enlarge Photo
Air travel is currently the only realistic way of covering huge distances in very short spaces of time.
Unfortunately, it's not a particularly green way of doing so either--airliners use large quantities of fossil fuels and emit plenty of pollutants as they whizz you to a far-flung destination.
They could get greener though according to Biodiesel Magazine, thanks to sustainable biofuels.
The National Wildlife Federation, Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have come together to announce the first fully-certified biofuel route, between Amsterdam in the Netherlands and New York's JFK airport.
Biofuel company SkyNRG provides the fuel. Several airlines already use biofuel on their routes, but the Amsterdam-JFK route is the first to achieve certification from the RSB for its entire supply chain--"from feedstock to flight".
The company sources certified sustainable feedstock for conversion into biofuel, ensuring protected areas and wildlife habitats are unaffected by the growth of feedstock. This is then processed and refined into Jet A1 fuel for use in aircraft.
Unfortunately, this does require some blending: a minimum of 50 percent fossil kerosene is used. On the plus side, it's still a whole lot less fossil fuel than usual, and it's a significantly more active way of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions than the usual method of buying carbon offsets.
SkyNRG says it can supply the fuel to any airport in the world, and the hope is that more routes will use the bio jet fuel soon.
At the moment, production is limited and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the fuel itself is expensive compared to regular jet fuel. SkyNRG is trying to bring down this cost, as currently the incentive to run it is no more than a moral one.
For green-minded passengers though, the option to fly on a route that reduces dependency on fossil fuels could be an attractive one.