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Flying Guinea Pigs

May 6, 2016

An article in United Airlines on-board magazine said, “[United] will be the first U.S. airline to use renewable biofuel on regularly scheduled passenger flights.”

Not many people may be aware that United Airlines is using biofuels, with the objective of taking biofuels from “demonstration flights to commercial deployment.”

So, if you have flown the friendly skies recently, there is a possibility you were an unwitting guinea pig.

United 777 taking off. Photo from Wikipedia

United 777 taking off. Photo from Wikipedia

While biofuels may be safe, assuming there are no long-term side affects, it’s merely another manifestation of an unrelenting, and unthinking, campaign to cut CO2 emissions to save the planet from climate change.

The reason for using biofuels, as stated by United, is that biofuels are “sustainable and will reduce greenhouse gasses.”

However, United’s fundamental premise, that biofuels are sustainable, is terribly flawed.

Assuming biofuels are safe, they will be hard pressed to replace jet fuel made from oil, as there aren’t sufficient feed stocks available to replace the jet fuel used by the airline industry.

One could say, using biofuels with passengers as guinea pigs is a publicity stunt, but since the use of biofuels hasn’t been widely advertised, except in its news release, it may merely be a trial balloon.

This is another case where politically correctness is absurd.

Worldwide jet fuel consumption in 2012 was nearly 2 billion barrels.

Based on forecast growth of miles flown by the airline industry, and a 30% improvement in engine efficiency, nearly 116 billion gallons of jet fuel will be needed annually by 2030.

The fact is, there is insufficient feedstock, whether it be trees, garbage, grease, algae, or whatever, to produce sufficient biofuel to replace jet fuel made from oil.

And to put CO2 emissions from airplanes in perspective, airplanes only produce 2% of worldwide CO2 emissions.

In essence, the proposal to replace jet fuel with biofuels requires destroying huge quantities of trees, or converting nearly all the worlds garbage, or devoting huge areas of land to produce algae, etc., to produce biofuels for airplanes, which only emit 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions.

It should be noted that no single source of feedstock is sufficient to produce all the biofuel needed to supply the airline industry in 2030, in order to reduce worldwide CO2 emissions by 2%.

Biofuels are not sustainable, when viewed from the perspective of the quantity of feedstock required to replace jet fuel made from oil.

It’s also interesting to note that a recent study for the European Commission “found the indirect land use change of biofuels to be bigger than previously thought, leading environmentalists to warn they are more polluting than fossil fuels, a claim strongly refuted by the industry.”

If this is true, the use of biofuels in aircraft becomes even more absurd.

Other airlines may follow United in the use of biofuels as it’s “politically correct,” but one must wonder whether people should be used as guinea pigs when the end result is futile, since there is insufficient feedstock to produce all the biofuel needed solely by the airline industry … which ignores all the other uses of biofuels being bandied about.

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Nothing to Fear, Chapter 10, Inadequacy of Biofuels, explains why biofuels are not sustainable with the necessary calculations for each type of biofuel covered.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon:

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. donb permalink
    May 6, 2016 12:56 pm

    I agree.
    The original push to use biofuels occurred during the Arab oil embargo in the early 70s. Making ethanol from grain was intended to make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil, not to reduce CO2 emissions. Given that the world today is awash in oil, the original rationale for using biofuels is hardly relevant.

  2. Don Shaw permalink
    May 6, 2016 2:29 pm

    Given the amount of biofuels available and the high cost of producing, it escapes me why we would be using them just to make a point that they can work in the jet engine. Similarly the administration is mandating that the US Navy run a portion of the fleet on fuel at $25 plus per gallon while cutting the readiness of our military by making excessive cuts.
    Thanks for the article.

  3. Neil Jones permalink
    May 6, 2016 6:31 pm

    Donn – I believe a national known reporter or publication looking for a “scoop” will soon pick up on your work.

    Its gotta happen.

    Developing, amplifying, and publishing this story and the recent one about Chernobyl alone would earn the journal or reporter a ton of enemies, but also fame and money.

    What an opportunity you present!

    • May 7, 2016 11:21 am

      Thanks for the compliment.
      I wouldn’t mind a bit if some enterprising reporter used my material to earn fame. If he or she gets rich with my material, I hope he or she has the courtesy to acknowledge its source.

  4. Paul Redfern permalink
    May 9, 2016 12:09 am

    There was a study a while back that showed that the limiting reagent (remember college chemistry?) for production of biofuels from plants is fresh water and stated that biofuels would never amount to more that a few percent of our energy needs.


  1. Flying Guinea Pigs | SMIPP Ltd.
  2. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #225 | Watts Up With That?

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