How Sustainable Jet Fuel is Changing the Aviation Industry for the Better


A number of weeks in the past, I discovered myself standing on the rocky seaside of D’Hainaut Island, inside Antarctica’s Mikkelsen Harbour, watching a few Gentoo penguins waddle into the close by water. Their red-orange beaks and peach-colored toes stood out like colourful bursts towards the stark backdrop of the White Continent—whereas large chunks of blue ice, some taller than my waist—gave the entire place an otherworldly really feel. 

While seeing the world’s least-visited continent from the bow of a ship is a exceptional expertise, the chance to step on land right here is just unforgettable. Of course, reaching the Antarctic peninsula is not any straightforward process. Just attending to Ushuaia, the “world’s southernmost city” and our place to begin for crusing the Drake Passage, was a journey in itself. In my case, it started with a 4.5-hour flight from San Francisco to Atlanta, Georgia, adopted by one other 11 hours of flight time to Argentina’s capital metropolis, Buenos Aires. Then after resting an evening, I joined different passengers (some coming so far as Australia) for yet one more wheels-up—this time a three-hour journey to Ushuaia. The quantity of jet gasoline required to even arrive at our expedition ship—a entire different beast—wasn’t misplaced on me. In truth, my rising carbon footprint has change into an growing concern of mine, the additional and the extra I journey. 

There’s little question about it: journey can change lives. But it might additionally put a big pressure on our planet. Tourism is 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, with guests from high-income international locations just like the U.S. being the main supply. Thankfully, there are an growing variety of methods to mitigate our environmental impression, and Nat Hab Adventures is on the forefront of sustainable journey, with a bevy of tasks and partnerships that embrace investing in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This different gasoline supply for jets additionally occurs to be main the world aviation trade’s method towards a goal of  “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050

“We want to get people talking about things like sustainable aviation fuel now,” says Court Whelan, Nat Hab’s Chief Sustainability Officer, “so that they soon become household terms.”

yellow float plane alaska

Nat Hab Alaska wildlife safari © Brad Josephs

Sustainable aviation gasoline is a biofuel made out of renewable waste assets, resembling cooking oil and meals scraps, that can be utilized to energy airplanes. Since its chemical and bodily traits are nearly equivalent to that of typical jet gasoline, the 2 may be safely blended collectively with out having to change airplane engines. How it really works is straightforward: SAF lowers carbon emissions by releasing carbon dioxide within the air that’s been beforehand captured (which means its manufacturing usually captures carbon that’s within the ambiance already, slightly than infiltrating the air with new volumes of CO2), and can be recaptured when extra SAF is produced. 

Unlike carbon offsetting, wherein you pay another person to cancel out carbon emissions elsewhere—for instance, placing cash towards reforesting lands in Peru or Madagascar to compensate on your personal emissions from a flight or practice experience—eradicating carbon from the setting via processes like producing different bio jet fuels is a extra everlasting storage resolution. 

However, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported that in 2022, using sustainable aviation fuels was solely 0.1 p.c of the world’s whole jet gasoline consumption, a proportion specialists have calculated by making an allowance for the gasoline’s whole life cycle—every part from extracting the uncooked materials to supply it within the first base to the gasoline’s precise use—after which evaluating it to related emissions from fossil jet gasoline. This means there’s a lot room for growth, and Nat Hab has gotten in on the bottom ground

In truth, sustainable aviation gasoline has an as much as 80 p.c decrease carbon footprint than typical jet gasoline (as of now, present aviation gasoline legal guidelines say jet gasoline could be a mixture of typical jet gasoline and as much as 50% SAF, because the former incorporates mandatory parts that assist stop gasoline leaks), an quantity that may go a great distance towards serving to the planet in an trade that accounts for two% of all world energy-related CO2 emissions. 

Not solely that, however SAF additionally considerably reduces particulate matter (soot), which is deemed poisonous, and has a a lot decrease sulfur content material that protects air and water. 

plane flies over Namib desert Namibia

Charter flight over the Namib Desert on a Nat Hab Namibia safari © Court Whelan

When an organization or particular person purchases SAF, it doesn’t imply that specific biofuel can be used on the flight they’re boarding. Instead, their funding goes instantly into supplying and delivering SAF into gasoline techniques at an airport near the place the biofuel is being produced (resembling Norway’s Oslo Gardermoen Airport and LAX in Los Angeles). This method, transporting the gasoline on land gained’t result in the manufacturing of even higher greenhouse fuel emissions (the entire thought of this system is protecting transportation emissions low, each within the air and on the bottom). 

Whenever an SAF buy is made, it’s then tracked, verified, and correctly credited to the particular person or group that paid for it. Completing most common carbon removing orders usually takes one-to-two years. 

Some of SAF’s most groundbreaking analysis is going on in Nat Hab’s personal yard, Colorado, on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a U.S. Department of Energy analysis and growth lab that’s taking a look at an entire aviation ecosystem overhaul. This means not simply completely decreasing the carbon depth of flight basically but additionally enhancing what NREL calls “the carbon footprint, mobility, and resiliency of the entire aviation ecosystem.” It’s not a straightforward process, because the aviation trade is sort of tough to decarbonize. That’s as a result of there’s nonetheless lots to be taught, and the present expertise is pricey. 

“For projects like these to become more feasible and affordable for the consumer,” says Whelan, “they need money. Nat Hab is always looking to move the needle or raise the bar,” which makes investing in SAF a no brainer. 

One of NREL’s major aims is to fulfill environmental targets whereas persevering with to be high-quality, secure, and environment friendly and concurrently protecting prices intact. To accomplish that, the lab is growing private and non-private partnerships with industrial airways, airports,  tech corporations and governmental companies in efforts to develop a set of trade requirements for producing SAFs. Together, they’re wanting into methods to transform every part from algae to agricultural residues (like corn husks and cobs) into completed biomass fuels. 

rainforest sun shining through green trees sustainability

© Court Whelan

Nat Hab’s SAF Commitment

Since 2022, Nat Hab has been investing in Tomorrow’s Air–Direct Air Capture, a carbon removing course of that extracts CO2 instantly from the ambiance and shops it away completely. Tomorrow’s Air works in partnership with the world’s main producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation gasoline, Neste, to cut back CO2 emissions via SAF. This implies that whether or not you’re embarking on a Nat Hab Secluded Botswana Safari or a Classic Galapagos journey, you’re additionally serving to to form the way forward for sustainable gasoline use in each tourism and past. 

“Obviously,” says Whelan, “we wouldn’t be able to make these sorts of investments if it weren’t for our Nat Hab travelers.”

Tomorrow’s Air additionally provides the choice of buying SAF instantly, in order that we are able to nonetheless embody this Nat Hab ethos through the instances we find yourself hitting the street rogue. 

float plane Alaska Bear Camp

Nat Hab’s Alaska Bear Camp © Court Whelan


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