What sustainable aviation fuel means for greener airplane travel

Source: Paul Sillers, CNN, Feb 19, 2020

The fresh air of the snow-covered Swiss mountains reverberated to the howl of private jet engines earlier this year as the planet’s movers and shakers descended on Davos for the annual World Economic Forum.

But while those engines were thirstily burning up aviation fuel, the net environmental impact of their exhaust emissions wasn’t as bad as it might have been in previous years.

The reason: many of them were powered by something called SAF, or sustainable aviation fuel.SAF is derived not from fossil-based oil or gas, but by refining organic or waste substances — the use of which means less harm to the planet.

For the delegates, the SAF was supplied as part of an apparently successful experiment to prove the logistic possibilities of delivering the fuel at Zürich Airport.

Which is all great news, particularly given the climate crisis focus of the Davos meeting and the presence of young campaigner Greta Thunberg.

So why aren’t we all flying on jets powered by this seemingly magical fuel?There’s few reasons right now, the chief among them being something you might expect when dealing with anything connected to Davos.

Firstly, it’s expensive. Zürich Airport says it’s 3-4 times the cost of conventional fuel.It’s also in short supply — but maybe not for long.

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