Dennis Bushnell is the chief scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, so what he says should probably be given some credence. Bushnell is saying that we could be powering aircraft with biomass from saltwater plants, or halophytes, grown in the desert.

Bushnell said, "This is far from evolutionary, it's just outside people's radar screens and the usual human reaction to this is to say that it's impossible, what's nice about biofuel is that it can use the existing infrastructure used by the oil companies and can be available much sooner than hydrogen, which would require changes to infrastructure and is, therefore, much further into the future."

There are some obvious benefits of biofuels over petroleum-based fuels, among them is sustainability, but another benefit is clear in this strategy: freshwater is not necessary when using halophytes, making the water to irrigate them rather easy to come by.

GE Aviation manager of advanced combustor engineering Timothy Held agrees partly with Bushnell, saying, "It seems plausible that some amount of suitable fuel could be made available for testing purposes in the five-year timeframe."

The article also says that General Electric is following developments in this area "with interest", as is an unidentified oil company.

[Source: Flight Global via Eco Sherpa via Treehugger]


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