Ready for takeoff? Aviation biofuels past, present, and future

Grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen parked in an aerial photo at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, U.S. July 1, 2019. Picture taken July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

Most consumers in the United States are familiar with the advances in the electrification of cars and, perhaps to a lesser extent, with innovations in automotive biofuel. However, the importance of powering the aviation sector (both military and commercial) through sustainable fuels cannot be overstated. David Hitchcock’s paper, “Ready for takeoff? Aviation biofuels past, present, and future,” provides a keen look at the history of biofuels, current uses of biofuel, and investments in research and development that will yield future dividends.

Hitchcock explains the context of US policy on biofuels, anchored in the revamped Renewable Fuel Standard as part of the 2007 Energy Policy Act, and also examines the interplay between federal and state legislation, using the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard as a case study. Finally, Hitchcock provides an overview of some of the most exciting research in the field, highlighting the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium and its innovations in producing biofuel through aquaculture.