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Biofuels can reduce aircraft pollution

Thin clouds may disappear with biofuels

The DC-8's four engines burned either JP-8 jet fuel or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and renewable alternative fuel of hydro processed esters and fatty acids produced from camelina plant oil.
The DC-8's four engines burned either JP-8 jet fuel or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and renewable alternative fuel of hydro processed esters and fatty acids produced from camelina plant oil. (NASA)

Look up and on a clear day there may be nothing more in the sky over Jacksonville other than those thin pencil long clouds streaming out from high altitude aircraft.

The condensation trails, or contrails, form when hot engine exhaust mixes with freezing air. Particles of pollution from the engines serve as seeds for the moisture to condense on in the cloud streaks.

But now NASA has discovered a way to reduce the pollution coming out of jet engines using biofuels.

NASA had to fly small chase planes extremely close behind a big jet to measure the gases and particles being thrown out. The study found burning a mix of aviation kerosene and biofuel could reduce a jet's carbon impact as much as 50 to 70 percent.

Contrails spread out to form cirrus clouds which warm the Earth's climate.

Those type of clouds have a larger impact on Earth’s atmosphere than all the aviation-related carbon dioxide emissions since the first powered flight by the Wright brothers.

NASA is currently developing an experimental plane in which it hopes to demonstrate, among its capabilities, low-noise supersonic flight powered by biofuel.


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