Tests confirm SAF’s effectiveness in decreasing pollution

New research has shown promising results in using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on commercial aircraft to reduce emissions. The ECLIF3 study, a collaboration between Airbus, Rolls Royce, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and SAF producer Neste, conducted tests on an Airbus A350 powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

During the test flight, a DLR chase plane monitored the emissions from the aircraft. The results showed a significant decrease in both soot particles and contrail ice crystals compared to using traditional Jet A-1 fuel. Specifically, the number of contrail ice crystals per mass of unblended SAF consumed was reduced by 56%, potentially lowering the climate-warming effect of contrails.

DLR used global climate model simulations to estimate the impact of contrails on Earth’s atmosphere, known as radiative forcing. The use of 100% SAF was projected to reduce the impact of contrails by at least 26% compared to traditional fuel.

These findings indicate that using SAF in aviation can not only reduce CO2 emissions but also mitigate non-CO2 effects such as contrails, leading to a more eco-friendly air transport system. Markus Fischer, a DLR divisional board member, emphasized the positive impact of SAF on reducing the climate-warming effect of contrails.

Mark Bentall, head of research and technology programme at Airbus, highlighted the importance of sustainable aviation fuels in decarbonizing air travel. The study demonstrates the potential of SAF in lowering soot emissions and ice particulate formation, showcasing its role in creating a more sustainable aviation industry.

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