First Biofuel Flight Current Affairs - 2019
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India’s first first-ever environment friendly biofuel powered flight between Dehradun and Delhi was propelled by blend of oil from jatropha seeds and aviation turbine fuel. The 43-minute flight was operated by SpiceJet’s Bombardier Q-400 aircraft, with 20 officials and five crew members on board.
This plane had carried blend of 25% of bio jet fuel (derived from jatropha seeds) and 75% of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) in one of the two engines of plane, while other carried only ATF. This flight was technological demonstration that bio jet fuel can be used in flights. International standards permit a blend rate of up to 50% biofuel with ATF. The blend of bio jet fuel and ATF has potential to reduce fuel costs by 15-20%.
Bio jet fuel is greenhouse gas (GHG) neutral, carbon neutral, reduces air pollution. Capping its blending with aviation turbine fuel will help to bring down import bill on crude oil. Moreover, commercialization of aviation biofuel promises large-scale employment avenues both in formal and informal sector,
The use of bio jet fuel will help in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 15% and sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions by over 99%. It is expected to provide indigenous jet fuel supply security. Its usage also offers superior engine performance and reduced maintenance cost for the airline operators.
Jatropha is drought-resistant perennial plant that can grow in marginal or poor soil. It is grows relatively quickly and lives, produces seeds for 50 years. It is found to be growing in many parts of the country, especially in rugged terrain and can survive with minimum inputs and easy to propagate.
It seeds has oil content of 37% which be combusted as fuel without being refined. It burns with clear smoke-free flame. It has been tested successfully as fuel for simple diesel engine. Its oil also acts as insecticide. Moreover, by-products of its seeds like press cake is good organic fertilizer. Jatropha also has medicinal properties and is used for diseases like cancer, piles, snakebite, paralysis, dropsy etc.
Aviation biofuel derived from Jatropha seeds
It was indigenously developed by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) lab based in Dehradun along with Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP). Its experiment was started in 200 and took nearly eight years to make its use practical.
India’s first flight using biofuel will fly from Dehradun (capital of Uttarakhand) to Delhi. The first ever biofuel test flight was conducted by SpiceJet on its turborporp Q-400 plane. With this India will join elite club of nations who have operated flight on alternative energy source like biofuel. Developed countries like Canada, Australia and US have already conducted these test flights. India will be first developing nation to experiment biofuel test flight.
SpiceJet operated first such biofuel flight from Dehradun to Delhi using alternative environment friendly fuel for 10 minutes over Dehradun. Based on the result of test flight, second flight took off later to Delhi. The objective this biofuel flight is to make air travel economical and bring some respite to airlines reeling under high fuel price through use of alternate fuel. Moreover, use of biofuel has the potential to reduce aviation carbon emissions by up to 80%. According to recent data from International Air Transport Association (IATA), recent rising aviation fuel costs in India has eroded aviation sector’s profitability.
The world’s first dedicated biofuel flight (by Dreamliner Boeing 787-9) was flown for first time from Los Angeles (US) to Melbourne (Australia) in January 2018 by Australian carrier Qantas. The fuel for this 15-hour flight was blended one and was 10% derived from industrial type of mustard seed. In 2011, Alaska Airlines had operated some flights using biofuel made of 50% used cooking oil. Air carrier KLM also had operated few biofuel flights between New York and Amsterdam in 2013.
Biofuel is produced from vegetable oils, recycled grease, algae and animal fat. It is cleaner, environmental friendly fuel that can be used as alternative in place of fossil fuels. To reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and its imports, India is trying to promote biofuels. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy recently on August 10, 2018 (World Biofuel Day 2018) had released National Policy on Biofuels 2018. Under it, Government plans to triple ethanol production over the next four years. It also has set target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol by 2030.