Sustainable Aviation Fuel and Hydrogen: The Future of Air Travel?

The Aviation Industry accounts for around 2% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. While this may seem like a small number, when you consider the massive scale of the aviation industry, it’s clear that we need to do something about those emissions if we want to keep global temperature rises under 2 degrees Celsius.

This article looks at the two main options to reduce global aviation emissions and meet the net zero targets set by the industry by 2050.

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Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

One potential solution is to switch to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). SAF comes from sustainable sources such as plants or waste products, so it doesn’t contribute to climate change. In addition, SAF doesn’t produce harmful pollutants such as sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxides, which can cause health problems.

The main advantage of SAF over fossil-based jet fuels is that it is carbon-neutral, meaning that the net emissions of greenhouse gases are zero. In addition, SAF is more energy-efficient than traditional jet fuels, and it produces fewer pollutants.

Integrating SAF into existing infrastructure can help reduce aviation’s environmental impact. Aviation significantly contributes to climate change, accounting for about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Using SAF can help to reduce these emissions, as the production does not release any additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

SAF can also help to improve air quality. Traditional jet fuels produce harmful pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which can cause respiratory problems and contribute to acid rain. SAF does not have these pollutants, making it a more environmentally friendly airline choice.

Several types of SAF are available, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some SAFs are made from sustainable plant-based oils, while others use waste products such as animal fats or cooking oil. The most promising type of SAF comes from sustainable biofuels such as algae or biomass. It is still in its early stages, and we must overcome some challenges before it can be widely adopted.

One challenge is the cost; at present, SAF is more expensive than traditional jet fuels. Another challenge is availability; currently, there is not enough sustainable aviation fuel available to meet the aviation industry’s needs. However, with continued investment in research and development, the sector should overcome these challenges in the foreseeable future.

In conclusion, sustainable aviation fuel offers several advantages over traditional jet fuels. It is carbon-neutral, more energy-efficient, and produces fewer pollutants, helping to reduce the environmental impact of aviation and improve air quality.



Hydrogen is another potential fuel source for aircraft, and it’s a clean-burning fuel that doesn’t produce harmful emissions. In addition, manufacturers can produce hydrogen from renewable sources such as solar or wind power, so it’s a sustainable option.

There are several advantages of using hydrogen as a fuel source for aircraft. First, hydrogen is a very efficient fuel, producing three times more energy than jet fuel per unit weight; this means that aircraft can fly further and carry more cargo on a single tank of hydrogen.

Hydrogen is a very clean fuel; the exhaust from hydrogen-powered aircraft is water vapour, which means it doesn’t contribute to carbon emissions.

Hydrogen is a relatively cheap fuel. The cost of producing hydrogen has come down in recent years, and it’s likely to become even more affordable as technology improves.

Switching to hydrogen would help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources that will eventually run out, so it’s essential to find alternative energy sources. It is a promising option because we can produce it from renewable sources such as solar and wind power.

Finally, switching to hydrogen would help us meet our emissions reduction targets. The aviation industry has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions to Net Zero by 2050, and hydrogen could help us achieve this goal.

KDC Projects works with some of the UK’s leading Aerospace OEMs to provide expertise and supply help with some of their more challenging work. We understand the need for the industry to switch to sustainable fuels and are keen to undertake projects that help better the sector.

To find out more about our work, go to our Case Studies area, where we discuss some of the other projects that we undertake in the aviation industry, combining our knowledge with our talented engineers as subject matter experts.

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