75CFDA33-4183-4D54-9393-81C6E28FAAD9 Created with sketchtool. Bio Jet Fuels to Fight Climate Change

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  Last updated March 15, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Blending biofuels with conventional jet fuels dramatically cuts the formation of contrails and that could help in the battle against Climate Change according to a study published in Nature today.

Contrails are formed behind high-flying aircraft where fine particles from the engine exhaust causes water vapour to crystalise into ice. The research from NASA found that blending biofuel with conventional aviation jet fuel cut contrail formation between 50 and 70% because the exhaust fumes contain less fine particles required for ice formation.

The researchers observed aircraft flying at altitudes of between 9,140–10,970 metres (30,000–36,000 feet). A research plane flying behind the aircraft collected samples of the exhaust and found that the biofuel blend produced notably fewer fine particle emissions than conventional fuels. These reductions were less at high-thrust settings compared to low- and medium-thrust settings.

Contrails are a type of cloud which can effect climate by both blocking incoming sunlight and changing how much water is stored in the atmosphere. It’s thought that the formation of contrails could have a significant impact on the global climate and so, any reduction in the amount of contrail formation will assist in dealing with climate change.

About the Author

Paul Willis
Paul is a respected leader in the science community with an impressive career in science. He has a background in vertebrate palaeontology, studying the fossils of crocodiles and other reptiles. He also has a long history as a science communicator, with a career spanning as Director of The Royal Institution of Australia, presenter and host for Australia’s Science Channel, working for the ABC on TV programs such as Catalyst and Quantum as well as radio and online. He’s written books and articles on dinosaurs, fossils and rocks and is finding new ways to engage the people of Australia with the science that underpins their world. Follow him on Twitter @fossilcrox.


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The Royal Institution of Australia is passionate about building and connecting communities engaged with science, and as such works closely with scientific organisations, institutions, universities from Australia, and leaders to inspire the next generation of innovators and to create a lasting legacy for Australia.

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