Cooking oil may be the aviation fuel of the future. An airport in Dallas is using the leftover oil from the fryers of over 200 restaurants to turn into sustainable fuel for aircraft, a solution that could massively drop the environmental impact of the over 150,000 flights per day worldwide.
The solution, masterminded by Dallas Fort-Worth International airport, is not only a fantastic fix for the gallons of waste produced by restaurants but also a fuel option that Airbus has already demonstrated in a flight recently.
“We generate a lot of waste, a lot of undesirable products that have to go somewhere,” said Robert Horton, DFW’s Vice President of Environmental Affairs, reports 5NBC/DFW.
“What we're trying to do is find a way to remove that without creating a detrimental impact.”
Aviation fuel made from cooking oil and waste fats is called sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), heralded by oil company BP as a huge step towards sustainable flight. Fuel for jets and airliners requires an extremely high energy-to-weight ratio, and creating a sustainable alternative that does not pump CO2 into the atmosphere is no easy feat.
To make SAF, cooking oil is refined into a synthetic aviation fuel by removing the oxygen and other chemical wizardry – but as aircraft cannot currently rely solely on synthetic aviation fuel, this is then blended with standard fuel to make it suitable for flight. Once it is complete, SAF allows for normal planes to fly with around 80 percent less emissions, including those released during its production.
Sadly, it doesn’t smell as good as friers – in fact, it doesn’t smell at all.
“It does not smell like french fries at all,” said Pratik Chandhoke, Technical Services Manager of Renewable Aviation, Neste US, in another statement.
“If you if you look at the liquid itself, it's clear as water and there's no odor to it.”
The airport hopes to get its entire process carbon-neutral by 2030, acting as a pilot test site while the rest of the aviation world hopefully watches. Emissions from aviation currently contribute around 2 percent of total global emissions, but that is on the rise, and as space tourism begins to gain momentum, sustainable fuel alternatives are becoming desperately needed.
“They've started to realize that aviation and airlines play a big role in the emissions globally,” continued Chandhoke.