Chinese scientists convert plant waste into jet fuel

Chinese scientists designed a process that could convert plant scraps from agriculture and timber harvesting into quality jet fuel, which may help reduce carbon dioxide emissions from airplanes and rockets.

The study published on Thursday in the journal Joule showed that a cheap, renewable and abundant polymer in the plant’s cell walls can produce high-density aviation fuel.

“Our biofuel is important for mitigating CO2 emissions because it is derived from biomass and it has higher density compared with conventional aviation fuels,” said the paper’s co-author Li Ning, a research scientist at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The utilization of high-density aviation fuel can significantly increase the range and payload of aircraft without changing the volume of oil in the tank, according to the study.

Li’s team used wheatgrass cellulose in the lab to produce a mixture of C12 and C18 chemicals with a low freezing point and a density about 10 percent higher than that of conventional jet fuels.

It can be used as either a wholesale replacement fuel or as an additive to improve the efficiency of other jet fuels, according to the study.

“The aircraft using this fuel can fly farther and carry more than those using conventional jet fuel, which can decrease the carbon dioxide emissions during the taking off and landing,” said Li.

Scientists expected the cheap, simple and energy-efficient process can be applied soon for commercial use.

Source: Civil Aviation Authority