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Abstract

All economic sectors, including aviation, are experiencing growing pressure to reduce their greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. Aviation, however, has fewer alternative-energy options to petroleum-based fuels than other transportation sectors. Of alternatives that may be available (1) Fischer-Tropsch jet fuel produced from biomass or from a combination of coal and biomass with carbon capture and sequestration and (2) hydroprocessed renewable jet fuel may reduce aviation's impact on climate but are likely to be available only in limited quantities. Producing fuels yielding a net reduction in GHG emissions requires that biomass and renewable oil resources be produced so as not to incur land-use changes that would result in releases of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other GHGs. The economic benefits of producing alternative liquid fuels extend to all petroleum users. In particular, producing and using alternative liquid fuels yields benefits to commercial aviation, whether or not those fuels are used in aviation. Finally, moving to an ultra-low-sulfur specification for Jet A would reduce aviation's impact on air quality.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Alternative Fuels for Commercial Aviation

  • Chapter Three

    Conventional Petroleum

  • Chapter Four

    Unconventional Petroleum

  • Chapter Five

    Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Fuels

  • Chapter Six

    Fuels from Renewable Oils

  • Chapter Seven

    Alcohols

  • Chapter Eight

    Findings and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Resource Base, Production Potential, and Estimated Production Costs

  • Appendix B

    Well-to-Wake Greenhouse-Gas Emissions

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration. The research was jointly performed by the Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emission Reduction at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment.

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