The British Ministry of Defense announced a plan for use of aviation fuel made from wood, alcohol and other sustainable sources to power aircraft like the Typhoon fighter plane, pictured. Photo courtesy of British Ministry of Defense
Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A plan to use sustainable sources for up to 50 percent of military aviation fuel was announced by British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace this week.
The British Ministry of Defense on Saturday said it would look to algae, alcohol, household waste, wood and biomass as potential sources of fuel for the nation's F-35 and Typhoon planes and Wildcat helicopters.
Aviation fuel consumes nearly two-thirds of fuel used by the British military, the ministry said.
New aviation fuel standards in effect since November call for a reduction in emissions and carbon footprints, and complement the British government's goal of net zero emissions throughout the country by 2050.
"[Britain] is leading the way in sustainability, and by refining our aviation fuel standards we are taking simple yet effective steps to reduce the environmental footprint of defense," Wallace said in the statement. "It is right that we step up to spearhead these positive changes across both military and civilian sectors."
Traditional aviation fuel used by military and commercial aircraft is kerosene-based, to reduce the risk of icing or high-temperature explosion as well as maximizing fuel efficiency.
The operator of Russia's Gazprom Neft aviation refueling business, Gazpromneft-Aero, began an integrated laboratory information system in July 2020 to analyze characteristics of aviation fuel and possible substitutes.
United Airlines has included biomass-derived fuel in their planes since 2019.
A 2017 research paper by U.S. Air Force Maj. Marcus McWilliams of the Air Force's Air University noted that most U.S. military planes can operate on sustainable aviation fuel. But no funding has been offered to modify the engines of F-35 and F-22 planes -- which can't run on it -- and require a 12- to 24-month process of testing and certification.
The British ministry's statement on Friday cited government and fuel business leaders approving of the changes.
"The Defense Strategic Fuels Authority has been working tirelessly with industry partners to change the Defense Standard for Aviation Fuel, allowing [sustainable aviation fuel] deliveries to the MOD," said Lt. Gen. Richard Wardlaw of the ministry's Chief Logistics and Support office.
"This is a significant change for Defense, enabling us to take a key step towards reducing our CO2 footprint, consistent with our wider ambition for achieving NZ50 [the net zero plan]," Wardlaw said.
Luke Robbins of CLH-PS, a British fuel pipeline operating company, was also enthusiastic.
"We are committed to contributing to the growth of SAF in particular and this change will enable us to work with our partners, including the MOD, to facilitate its wider use in the [British] aviation market."