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Business, Economy and Consumer Affairs

Biofuels in aviation discussed at Purdue

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Purdue is hosting an annual event, with the focus this year on how to enhance the aviation industry.

The Indiana Biomass Energy Working Group is meeting to discuss the future of biofuels in planes.

Chad Martin is the Renewable Energy Specialist at Purdue.

He says it’s the first time in the event’s five year history looking at biofuels in aviation.

"We have a core group of excellent faculty researchers here who have taken a leading role within that industry, looking at biofuel development for their industry," he said.  "Purdue has a long standing history of work in advancing the aviation industry and looking at new fuels and lubricants is definitely a part of that.

Doctor Maureen McCann is the Director of Purdue’s Energy Center and one of the speakers.

She says coming up with ways to blend biofuels with current products has multiple benefits for aviation and the nation’s economy.

“The airline industry uses about one-third of our U.S oil needs, just for airplanes," she said.  "So if we can displace that with biofuels then it will go a long way in displacing our reliance on fossil fuels.”

McCann says some biofuels are being used by small planes, but they are not suitable yet for jets.

She says the problem is current biofuels don’t have a similar molecular composition to the fuel used by larger planes.

McCann believes the technology will be available in the next 15 years.