This is such a good news story – to hear that Etihad (UAE-based airline out of Abu Dhabi) has flown their first commercial flight powered by locally produced sustainable fuel is beyond exciting.
Suddenly we can see a future without fossil fuels. The bio-fuel used on this flight was derived from salicornia plants grown locally on a test farm in the desert. These plants grow naturally in saltwater marshes and on the coast, but are also being grown in a purpose-built facility combining saltwater food production – think shrimps and fish – with bio-fuel production. Saltwater is pumped from the ocean and used to farm fish in large tanks. The waste water from there is pumped into larger areas where saltwater plants are grown and the bio-mass from these is used to create bio-fuel. The wastewater from there is then pumped into a mangrove wetland where, once again, the bio-mass is used to create bio-fuel. And, as we know, mangroves are great water purifiers so the final output would be clean water.
The article also explains that over 160,000 flights have already been flown on a mix of fossil and bio fuels. And it also mentions Air New Zealand’s test flight using plant-based fuel back in 2008 when these initiatives were very new.
Watch this space as technologies advance. With so much riding on the reduction in carbon emissions in the next 20 years are we looking at a definitive step forward in that?
(C) Sue Farley 2019