This is the first entry to attend the Florens 2012 Cultural and Environmental Heritage Week in Florence, Italy. The conference is being held from November 3rd to 11th, with the overall theme, ‘From the Grand Tour to the Global Tour’ and explores how economy relates to fields such as arts, cultures, technology and sustainability. First arising in 2010 the conference has since risen in international fame. The topics of the conference explore the interrelation between many fields of study and disciplines, touching on some groundbreaking ideas. I urge you to explore the site and come November keep up to date with their speakers and events.
In the span of a mere five years sustainable biomass jet fuel has gone from the realm of science fantasy to the the precipice of widespread commercial adoption. Five years is all it took for science to make this great leap.
"Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Give a man science and he'll bio engineer you a bigger fish."
A Continental Airlines Boeing 737 was the first US commerical flight of a renewable fuel aircraft. Wikipedia Commons Photo by Brian
A Welcome From the Paradox
Sustainability is a passionate topic of mine. Travel a love of mine. Believe these things long enough and you'll come to the paradoxical cross roads. How can one justify excessive travel, however relatively efficient it may be? All forms of transit are not made equal, though it is aviation which has the largest emissions per person.
I had a hard time squaring my actions with my beliefs. It remained a sticking point in my mind. Not only for aviation, but such excessive travel broadly defined.
There are alternatives such as carbon credits, carbon offsets and cap and trade policy. While their merits can be debated, they do nothing to solve the problem of fossil fuel consumption.
As is so often the case science has come to the rescue.
Much like the Next Generation's Picard saved Kirk in the Nexus it was the second generation of biofuels that made this idea a reality. First attempts were flawed, but most are. One of the major sticking points highlighted by opponents, is a reliance on bio mass generated from crop sources, otherwise feeding humans.
This flaw along with many others was addressed in this second generation of biofuels. Here are the main points:
We are already seeing commercial real world results which according to Honeywell, “achieve 65 to 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to petroleum-based fuels”.
A World Wide Endeavor
While the United States is certainly a leader, this is a rapidly expanding international collaboration. The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, founded in 2008 has led much of this. Involved countries include Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, China, Singapore, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Who Would Have Thought
The Department of Defense played perhaps, the largest role in US participation through funding, research and support. They have entered into a private-public partnership with the commercial airline industry to create a viable stable market to promote further private funding for large scale biofuel production.
The US Navy FA-18 Super Hornets will be powered by reneweable fules. Wikipedia Commons photo by Aaron
The US Navy's Green Task Force demonstrating live operations of a Bio fueled fleet, hopes to have 50 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2020. The US Airforce has also comitted to acquiring 50 percent of its fuel needs from alternative blends by 2016.