A British adventurer is going to use fuel made from plastic waste to power his 10,000-mile flight from Sydney, Australia to London, England. Former aerobatics and Flying Doctors pilot Jeremy Rowsell plans to make stops at Darwin, Christmas Island, Sri Lanka, Oman, Jordan, and Malta, before touching down in London, six days after taking off.
The diesel engine Cessna 182 will run on fuel developed by Irish company Cyna Plc, which melts down waste plastics in an oxygen free environment (a process known as pyrolysis) to create a petroleum distillate-like product that can be separated into different fuels.
Cynar say that this technique releases absolutely no emissions and the end product is cleaner than conventional diesel and of a higher quality, with those few plastics that cannot be used in the conversion process being used to make floor coverings.
This type of fuel has been tested in cars, but this will be the first time that it is used in an aircraft. To power the flight’s required 400 litres, approximately 5 tonnes of plastic waste is required.
There have been numerous claims for years now from critics suggesting that there is not enough waste to build a viable aviation fuel industry. Cynar chief executive Michael Murray reminded BusinessGreen in an interview of the masses of plastics already polluting our environment, piling up in landfills, and the continued and increasing consumer demand.
“There’s 26 million tonnes [of plastics] in the US going into landfill each year and 15 million in Europe,” he said. “I think [the fuel] can be a viable alternative if the industry adopts diesel-type engines. It’ll need testing and trials, but for a diesel engine not going beyond 8,000 feet, it should be fine.”
Roswell noted in a statement that the flight, likely to take place some time in November, would shed light on an issue the industry needs to tackle.
“Flying is critical to the economy, vital for saving lives and is the best way to experience the planet we live on,” he added in a statement. “We can’t stop flying, but how can we do that and do it sustainably?
“Our objective is to prove that this synthetic fuel made from plastic waste is viable for a number of practical solutions and by doing so replace the need to use fossil fuels from conventional sources.”
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