Racing towards a sustainable aviation fuel

Keep your eyes skyward this November for news of a publicity stunt expected to draw fresh attention to the controversial idea of sustainable aviation fuel. That’s when British pilot Jeremy Roswell plans to fly a small private plane 10,000 miles -- from Sydney, Australia to London, England -- powered by a fuel made from plastic waste.

The Cessna in question uses a diesel engine and is expected to make its historic run on a product manufactured by the Irish company Cynar Plc. The fuel reportedly uses pyrolysis technology to melt down the waste plastics in an oxygen-free, emissions-free process.

“Our technology represents a unique and profitable way to significantly decrease the amount of end-of-life plastics that are disposed in landfills and incinerators,” said Cynar CEO and Chairman Michael Murray in a press statement earlier this year. Cynar has also awarded an $11 million contract to Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK) to design and build a plastic-to-fuel conversion plant in the U.K.

 

 

But Cynar isn’t the only one trying to find an affordable, sustainable vehicular fuel. The Filipino company Polygreen is also using pyrolysis to convert plastics into fuel. Its founder believes the new fuel will burn cleaner and be 20 percent less expensive than standard fuel due to the massive availability of waste plastics.

In Indiana, Swift Fuels LLC is also working on that challenge, but from a different angle. It’s developing high-octane aviation biofuel using agricultural feed stuffs like switchgrass and grains.

Photo of airplane icon by vladis torms via Shutterstock.

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