Although aviation is a relatively small industry, it has a disproportionately large impact on the climate system. Currently, it accounts for about nine percent of the total climate change impact of human activity.
As the world becomes more technically adept, the demand for connectivity becomes more apparent. With these demands in mind, the aviation industry has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint. The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) is leading the charge with its latest project called PETROSS, short for Plants Engineered to Replace Oil in Sugarcane and Sorghum.
The PETROSS project has developed a specially engineered sugarcane that produces oil called lipidcane. This eco-friendly oil can be sustainably converted into biodiesel or jet fuel. In addition to producing a sustainable fuel source for airliners, this unique sugarcane oil produces more than fifteen times more jet fuel (6,307 liters or 1,666 gallons) than traditional soybean sourcing methods.
Using alternative fuel sources like the engineered sugarcane oil produced by PETROSS will serve to lighten the carbon footprint air travel produces, while not disrupting the industry at large.