The aviation industry has one of the fastest growing rates of carbon emissions of any industry worldwide, with direct emissions from aviation accounting for around 2% of the annual global total. Some more statistics for carbon emissions in the aviation industry can be seen in the embedded infographic. 

As part of the international resolve to tackle climate change led by the Paris Agreement, governments across Europe are implementing new policies and initiatives to help reduce or eliminate carbon emissions in this industry by 2050 in line with targets.  

A new research consortium in the UK is being led by the University of Birmingham to explore the potential adoption of synthetic, low-carbon fuel sources in aeroplanes and investigate the benefits and barriers to implementing this. 

Matthew Stone, Renovare Fuels Limited’s Chairman, leads the company in the manufacture and marketing of a patented biogas fuel developed from biodegradable waste products. 

Funding for Research 

The UK government has allocated £5 million in funding for the new research network, which includes NewJet Network+, bringing together in partnership experts from across the clean energy industry, aviation and academia to seek solutions to reducing the environmental impact of air transport.  

Partners in the initiative include several prominent UK universities, the Department for Transport, Air BP, and Renovare Fuels. More than £22 billion is contributed to the economy of the UK annually by aviation, so finding a low-carbon solution is essential not only to the future of the industry but to the health of the economy.  

The new network has been tasked with exploring the potential benefits of low-carbon synthetic fuels, which include reduced emissions and non-CO2 emissions performance, as well as possible barriers to implementation such as infrastructure costs and stakeholder confidence. 

Decarbonising Transport Networks+ 

NewJet Network+ is one of five networks that comprise Decarbonising Transport Networks+, which together will be exploring the possibilities for low-carbon or no-carbon synthetic fuels and other solutions to significantly reduce the impact of the UK transport industry on the atmosphere. 

Each of the five networks focuses on a different area of sustainable future transport and has been granted funding of up to £1 million for research into greener fuels. The transport industry is currently the largest contributor in the UK in terms of carbon emissions. It is hoped that these research projects will result in realistic, usable solutions to this issue. 

Renovare Fuels has developed a biogas liquid fuel from waste that can be combined with traditional jet fuel to reduce the carbon footprint in the short term.  

Cleaner Fuels for Lower Emissions 

The specific focus of the NewJet Network+ research group is an exploration of the environmental and societal challenges of growth in the aviation industry in the UK. This industry is one of the biggest success stories of the UK in economic terms – you can learn more in the embedded short video.  

The transport industry as a whole is forecast significant growth across Europe, with experts predicting growth in the number of commercial flights per year to be somewhere between 18.6 million and 26.1 million.  

Therefore, intervention in terms of sustainable fuel across the aviation industry has the potential to have a huge impact on carbon emissions over the coming decades. While most areas of the aircraft industry have advanced almost beyond recognition over the years, fuel is essentially still the same as that being used in the 1960s. 

The focus is on radical mid to longterm solutions with a systematic approach that will give due consideration to new fuel technology.