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NASA confirms benefits of biofuels


A NASA study has confirmed planes can drastically cut jet engine pollution by using biofuels.

Three planes equipped with sensor technology followed NASA’s workhorse DC-8, which emitted fumes from tanks filled with 50/50 biofuel and aviation fuel. It found particle emissions were slashed by between 50% and 70%.

The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions Study, or ACCESS, is an international NASA-led initiative involving agencies from Germany and Canada.

Contrails are the white clouds seen in the sky left after a plane has passed over. Persistent contrails are an unnatural addition to the atmosphere and are problematic for the atmosphere.

“Soot emissions also are a major driver of contrail properties and their formation,” said Bruce Anderson, ACCESS project scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “As a result, the observed particle reductions we’ve measured during ACCESS should directly translate into reduced ice crystal concentrations in contrails, which in turn should help minimize their impact on Earth’s environment.”

The research is ongoing.

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