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Converting Grass to Jet Fuel

Converting Grass to Jet Fuel
Jennifer Billock

Save those lawn clippings; you could be using them to fuel the plane for your next flight.

A recent breakthrough from researchers at Ghent University has opened up the world of fueling planes to a whole new opportunity. Now, instead of waiting millions of years for plant material to turn into fuel by natural processes, we can officially speed up the production of crude oil – by using grass.

Basically, the scientists have figured out a way to break down grass and make it more easily digestible by bacteria, a process which creates decane, which is one of the main ingredients in plane fuel. Here’s how it works, according to Engadget writer Steve Dent:

“The scientists first treated the grass with a compound that broke it down and made it easier for bacteria to digest. They then treated it with an enriched Clostridium bacteria from the family that makes up the good bacteria in your gut, rather than the one that kills you. Fermentation much like that used for beer produced lactic acid and its derivatives, and further treatment yielded caproic acids. With further processing, that was converted into decane, a primary ingredient of gasoline and jet fuel.”

Granted, these fuels aren’t very environmentally friendly, but they are lighter and hold more energy than other power sources. And since planes need to be on the lighter side to lift off, it looks like we may be using these fuels for the long haul, at least for now.

Right now scientists are unable to make a full fuel supply with this method, but they expect it to become feasible on a commercial level in the future.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (3)


  1. BJM

    April 20, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    It will catch on if it is less expensive to produce than dinosaur based products. However, big oil will find a way to kill it.

  2. justpassingby

    April 23, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Real climate change is over a hundred years away if not hundreds of years away but our use of fossil fuels is MUCH closer; so what are we going to do NOW !!

    The end of the Fossil Fuel era is upon us so what are we going to do next-?
    Energy information Administration Official Energy Statistics from the US government

    The above report indicates that the US will be using primarily oil as our main energy source through 2030.

    The world’s total declared reserves are 1,317,400,000,000 barrels (January 2007).

    World oil consumption 2005 is 80,290,000 barrels per day or 29,305,850,000 per year

    Dividing annual consumption into total reserves gives us 44.9 years of oil supply at the current consumption rate.

    That was eleven (11)years ago, we are not changing your habits and this spells doom for us all.

    Do you have any suggestions–?

  3. pdsales

    April 24, 2017 at 8:50 am

    In Canada the process will use a different biomass.

    Of course if you get right into the exhaust of an Air Canada jet, you should not drive.

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