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.