Science

Is There A Better Way To Power Airplanes?

This video was made in partnership with Bill Gates. To learn more about his work on clean energy, visit https://gatesnot.es/2WDTJ1L

It’s hard to replace jet fuel because the alternatives aren’t energetic enough, are too dangerous, or aren’t yet being made at scale.

Thanks also to our Patreon patrons https://www.patreon.com/MinuteEarth and our YouTube members.
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To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Jet fuel – a liquid petroleum fuel with high specific energy and energy density, used in airplane jet engines, made of kerosene with a few additives
Specific Energy – how much energy something contains per unit mass
Energy Density – how much energy something contains per unit volume
Synthetic jet fuel – a jet fuel replacement, typically aiming to have lower life cycle environmental impacts than jet fuel (AKA: sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), alternative jet fuel, renewable aviation fuel, renewable jet fuel, biojet fuel, sustainable alternative fuel)
Kerosene – a petroleum product that is the main component of jet fuel (and old fashioned lanterns)
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If you liked this week’s video, you might also like:
What you get from a barrel of oil – https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/oil-and-petroleum-products/
Real Engineering: Are Electric Planes Possible? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNvzZfsC13o&feature=youtu.be
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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer and Narrator: Alex Reich (@alexhreich)
Video Illustrators: Ever Salazar and Sarah Berman
Video Director: Ever Salazar (@eversalazar)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Kate Yoshida, Peter Reich, David Goldenberg, Julián Gómez, Arcadi Garcia Rius
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder: http://www.soundcloud.com/drschroeder
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References:

ATAG. Nov 2017. Beginner’s Guide to Sustainable Aviation Fuel, Edition 3. https://bit.ly/2AcJLLW Accessed Jan 2020.

ATAG. “Producing sustainable aviation fuel” https://bit.ly/3gncnmh Accessed Jan 2020

Burton, Freya. Personal communication, Feb 2020

Caldeira, K. Personal communication, Feb 2020

Cey, E., et al. 2019. Energy Education. “Oil formation.” https://bit.ly/3ej8r3Y Accessed Jan 2020

Chuck, C. (Ed.). 2016. Biofuels for aviation: feedstocks, technology and implementation. Academic Press

Goldmann, A., et al. 2018. A study on electrofuels in aviation. Energies, 11(2), 392. https://bit.ly/2AfRUis

Hileman, J. I., & Stratton, R. W. 2014. Alternative jet fuel feasibility. Transport Policy, 34, 52-62. https://bit.ly/2X8832H

IATA. May 2019. “Sustainable Aviation Fuels Fact sheet.” https://bit.ly/2ZO2BDX Accessed Jan 2020

IATA. December 2019. “Fuel Fact Sheet.” https://bit.ly/3dcJ0Ry Accessed March 2020

Le Feuvre, P. 18 March 2019. Are aviation biofuels ready for take off? https://bit.ly/2XA5R2T

Lehtveer, M., Brynolf, S., & Grahn, M. 2019. What Future for Electrofuels in Transport? Analysis of Cost Competitiveness in Global Climate Mitigation. Environmental science & technology, 53(3), 1690-1697. https://bit.ly/3d96QgX

McKinsey. Energy Resources. https://bit.ly/2M7pYzW Accessed December 2019.

Monroe Aerospace. 29 April 2019. Why Airplanes Use Kerosene Rather Than Plain Gasoline for Fuel. https://bit.ly/3d8FpnD

Searle, S. 15 Nov 2018. Decarbonizing aviation through low-carbon fuels will be beyond difficult. https://bit.ly/2zAN1kc

Shaw, R.J. 12 June 2014. “How does a jet engine work?” https://go.nasa.gov/2XOwG3F Accessed Jan 2020

Sindreu, J. 10 Jan 2020. The Promise of Sustainable Aviation Fuel Isn’t for Today. https://on.wsj.com/3gthykv

Wikipedia. “Nuclear Powered Aircraft” https://bit.ly/2ZGECGw Accessed Jan 2020.

Thanks also to Steve Thorne and Erik Pieh.

References for calculations
https://bit.ly/3c9Lvmc
https://bit.ly/2yC04kS
https://bit.ly/2X5OAPV
https://bit.ly/2zDqoLT
https://bit.ly/3gw1L4n
https://bit.ly/2TLZQPo
https://bit.ly/2TGOV9B
https://bit.ly/2TLG86r
https://bit.ly/2ZHdZkN
https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=jet+fuel
https://www.toyota.com/corolla/features/capacities/1882/1863/1856
https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-much-does-gasoline-weigh.html
https://theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/Transatlantic_Fuel_Efficiency_Ranking_20180912.pdf
https://www.transtats.bts.gov/Distance.asp?pn=0
https://physics.info/energy-chemical/
https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-storage
https://neutrium.net/properties/specific-energy-and-energy-density-of-fuels/

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