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Fuels for the future

  • Magazine Feature Article
  • 09AEMD0902_01
Published September 02, 2009 by SAE International in United States
  • English

Cleaner and more environmentally friendly sources of aviation fuel will be needed if the impact of air travel is to remain acceptable as the climate changes.

Global engine manufacturers are investing millions of dollars into new technologies and design concepts to extract the maximum performance out of the coming generation of engines in terms of reduced fuel burn and lower NOx and CO2 emissions. Today's global civil air fleet contributes only about 2% of manmade CO2 emissions, but this could rise to 3% by 2050 because of air traffic growth. And so work continues, by design evolution and increased fuel efficiency, in the pursuit of improvements that will provide a realistic way forward for aviation.

Speaking in Geneva at the Aviation and Environment Summit, Paul Steele, the Executive Director of the Air Transport Action Group, said: “Aircraft today look much the same as in the 1960s, although we now have lighter materials and more advanced aerodynamic features, and fuel efficiency has risen by 70% in this period. But one thing hasn't changed-the fuel we use.”