Lufthansa flights and biofuel

Lufthansa, the German airline, has announced the success of the testing of flights powered by biofuel. The airline flew around 1187 flights with biofuel between Hamburg and Frankfurt reducing CO2 emissions by 1,471 tons.

Joachim Buse, Vice President Aviation explains Lufthansa biofuel:

Our burnFAIR project has developed smoothly and to our full satisfaction. As expected, biofuels have proven their worth in daily flight operations" -and goes on- "Biosynthetic kerosene is as reliable as traditional fuel but the environmental impacts are reduced. Thanks to the higher energy density of biofuel, it has been possible to reduce fuel consumption by more than 1%. In addition, biosynthetic kerosene is free of sulfur and aromatic compounds"- he also explains - “The principle behind biofuels is simple and is based on the carbon cycle. Plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. When aircraft engines burn biofuel, CO2 is released into the atmosphere. Biofuels emit around 50% less CO2 than traditional fossil fuels. "- Finally he concludes -"As a next step, we will focus on the availability, sustainability and certification of raw materials. But first we have to tap into this market. However, Lufthansa will continue the trial only if it can guarantee the sustainable volume and certified raw materials necessary to maintain normal flight operations.”.

The culminating event of the experimentation of Lufthansa biofuel coincided with the first scheduled flight to the United States on January 12, 2012. A Boeing 747-400, powered by approximately 40 tons ofbiosynthetic fuel, flew from Frankfurt to Washington and predicted the reduction of emissions by 38 tons, the equivalent of the CO2 emissions produced by about six scheduled flights between Frankfurt and Berlin.

In line with the IATA targets for the sector, airlines must reduce their taxes by 2050 CO2 emissions by 50% compared to 2005. "If we want to protect our climate and therefore our future in a sustainable way, we need innovative ideas and technologies as well as an ecological alternative to fossil fuels especially in view of the growing demand for mobility around the world.”- declared Christoph Franz, Chairman of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.

Airlines will therefore have to reduce CO2 emissions by 2050 and biosynthetic kerosene would seem a reliable solution as much as traditional fuel for engine safety will also enter the so-calledEu Emissions trading system, the emissions trading scheme. An often contested mechanism yet, at the moment, the only one capable of putting some order in the CO2-jungle. In cash, the gear provides a quota of free emissions up to which carriers can go. Once this threshold has been crossed, it will be necessary to purchase further on the market "Authorizations to pollute", paying for the overruns of the ceiling: 10 euros per tonne of CO2.

Thanks to the setting of benchmark values - said Connie Hedegaard, commissioner responsible for climate action - Airlines now know how many free allowances they will receive each year until 2020. At current market prices, these free allowances represent over € 20 billion for the next decade. With these potential revenues, companies could invest in the modernization of fleets in order to improve their efficiency from the point of view of consumption and use non-fossil fuel for air transport. Although the EU prefers action on a global scale, we cannot accept that the aviation sector is exempt from participation because it cannot reach an international agreement“.

At this point the biofuel Lufthansa branded could be a truly revolutionary solution The problem lies in the reduced availability of such fuels. A deficiency that calls into question the feasibility of projects regarding the cultivation of plants suitable for the production of biocherosene: experts in fact have been opposing it for years, as food safety is questioned by subtracting land from traditional crops.

edited by Anna De Simone

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