Thanks to the frequent flier points we want to notch up, our carbon footprints criss-cross the face of the earth. Now Qantas has decided to paint those footprints green by re-using rubbish in an effort to power the airline's fleet with greener fuel. The biofuel will be built at a plant in Sydney.
The airline wants to cut its carbon emissions and meet airline industry guidelines of improving fuel efficiency by 1.5 per cent a year to 2020 - or even the UN target of 2 per cent.
Teamed with US fuel supplier Solena, it aims to convert commercial waste to biofuel using the Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) method, a 1920s German process used to produce synthetic jet fuel from coal in South Africa and gas in Qatar.
Solena estimates that lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 per cent compared with fossil fuel derived kerosene and annual CO2 savings from the fuel it produces will be the equivalent of taking 48,000 cars off the road.
Projected CO2 savings of 550,000 tonnes a year include 250,000 tonnes from a reduction in waste sent to landfills, 86,000 tonnes from 20 megawatts of electricity a year generated from tail gas produced by the F-T process and 72,000 tonnes from a byproduct, naptha.
"Under an agreement with Solena Fuels, we have committed to investigate the feasibility of a waste-based aviation fuel production plant in Australia," news.com.au quoted spokesperson Olivia Wirth as saying.
"We expect to produce a business case for such a plant within 12 months. While we are still in the early stages of this project, the possibilities are exciting."
Qantas has had a long-standing interest in biofuels and is a member of the global Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group.