Royal Air Force Pledges to Run F35s on Household Waste and Alcohol

Keep your leftovers for the next day, they may take you to the skies.
Chris Young

The U.K.'s Ministry of Defense announced ambitious plans to replace as much as 50 percent of specific jet fleets' fuel with renewable, recycled "drop-in" fuel sources, Popular Mechanics reports.

That means that the Lockheed Martin F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets will essentially be running on alcohol, margarine, and other recycled household products.


Royal Air Force's biofuel push

The announcement was made as part of the U.K.'s push for carbon-neutrality by 2050, a timeline that is shared by many other nations worldwide amidst official climate emergency announcements.

As Monch explains, "drop-ins" fuel sources include "hydrogenated fats and oils, wood waste, alcohols, sugars, household waste, biomass, and algae."

Estimates suggest that substituting 30 percent of fuel with an alternative source could reduce CO2 emissions by 18 percent. Using waste for fuel also has the added benefit of preventing it from going to landfill.

A revolution in sustainable air travel?

The push for sustainable fuel comes alongside the U.K.'s recent military budget announcement, in which it committed to the largest boost to military spending in 30 years. This begs the question, will the military's renewables push be offset by increased emissions due to the country's strongest military spending in years?

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In any case, civil aviation is likely to follow in defense's footsteps, which can only be a good thing. It is, in fact, already making strides in that direction: Virgin Atlantic has flown a commercial flight on waste-based biofuel and improved algae photosynthesis shows promise for future mass biofuel conversion.

As is often the case, military technological advances find their way into the civilian domain so all of this could point towards a revolution in sustainable air travel. If that is the case, it will be pretty cool to think that a jet reaching 1.6 Mach speed might be running partly on some of your discarded pieces of toast.

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