Can Sustainable Jet Fuel Power Our Post-Pandemic Future?

Photo Courtesy: A passenger takes a selfie while wearing a protective face mask in an airplane before take-off at the Phoenix International Airport. (Photo by Carol Coelho/Getty Images)

In late March, as air travel activity levels in the U.S. continued to rise, a group of researchers affiliated with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO, announced the discovery of a new way to craft jet fuel from everyday food waste. The findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, outline one possible way to reduce the negative impact of passenger flights on the environment — by creating sustainable paraffin (also known as kerosene) from food waste and using it to power jet engines.

As the NREL study notes, the aviation industry currently accounts for over 2.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and, without decisive action from the industry, that percentage is expected to increase in the next decade. The study’s findings mark a potential step forward for the aviation industry, which has struggled in recent years to mitigate its damaging effects on the environment.