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Making Air Travel Eco-Friendly?

Germany is all set to manufacture Kerosene artificially, and not from crude oil this time. Hence, it shall not emit any kind of greenhouse gas. It shall literally become cent percent environment-friendly kerosene. World’s first commercial plant for manufacturing Synthetic Kerosene has recently been launched in Werlte, near Germany’s northwestern border with the Netherlands. The German Environment Ministry has confirmed the news, saying in a statement that Synthetic Kerosene shall become one of the most environment-friendly aviation fuels in the coming years.

The draft report on the Paris Climate Agreement, published in August 2020, warned that the use of fossil fuels should be stopped worldwide as soon as possible. Otherwise, the emission levels of greenhouse gases, like Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide and Sulphur Dioxide, would increase, and the Average Global Temperature would rise by 2.6 degrees Celsius more than in pre-Industrial Period even before the year 2100. It would also create troubles for Human Civilisation, as the abnormal increase in Average Global Temperature would melt the ice at the North and South Poles, as well as the glaciers of different mountain peaks, prompting to increase the water levels of oceans. As a result, many countries would submerge under water.

The e-kerosene plant in Werlte, Germany

To prevent that terrible future, the Global Community has been advised to put a stop to usage of using fossil fuels by the next decade, so that the rise of Average Global Temperature could be contained to 2 degrees Celsius in the next 79 years. According to the draft report on Paris Climate Agreement, aviation currently accounts for about 2.5% of worldwide emissions of Carbon Dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to Global Warming.

Meanwhile, the Government of Germany has claimed that the world’s first eco-friendly e-Kerosene Plant in Werlte would play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation fuel, initially. Electric vehicles have already been introduced in different parts of the globe in order to reduce the usage of fossil fuels as much as possible. However, it is difficult to fly aircraft laden with huge batteries. It would be a risky affair. Hence, there are concerns about how to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels in aviation, keeping in mind the increasing number of aircraft and passengers in recent times.

While inaugurating the plant on October 4, 2021, Environment Minister of Germany Svenja Schulze said: “The era of burning coal, oil and natural gas is drawing to a close.” She stressed: “At the same time, no one should have to sacrifice the dream of flying. This is why we need alternatives to conventional, climate-harming kerosene.” At the same time, Schulze admitted that Germany might not be an ideal place to produce large amounts of e-fuel, stating that if other countries would have cheaper solar power thanks to a greater abundance of sunshine, then “this will create export opportunities for German technology and plant construction.”

Svenja Schulze

The facility in Werlte will use water and electricity from four nearby wind farms to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen will be combined with Carbon Dioxide to make crude oil that can then be refined into jet fuel. The Euronews has reported that burning Synthetic Kerosene would release only as much CO2 into the atmosphere as was previously removed to produce the fuel, making it Carbon Neutral. Experts are of the opinion that the so-called e-fuels could help solve the problem of carbon emission, by replacing fossil fuels without major technical modifications to the aircraft.

A Lufthansa Boeing 747 with covered engines is pulled to a parking position at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany on October 22, 2020

Talking to the media, Senior Researcher and Team Leader at the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research Falko Ueckerdt stressed: “It’s a new paradigm, if you will. Through cheap solar, mainly, it can be possible in the future to produce e-fuels that are as cheap as fossil fuels today.” For her part, executive board member of Lufthansa Airlines Christina Foester said that the German aviation company would purchase 25,000 litres of the e-Kerosene annually over the next five years. She added: “Lufthansa’s airlines have been researching and using Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) for many years. We are currently the largest customer in Europe. Synthetic fuels from renewable energies are the Kerosene of the future.

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