Flying Food Waste

High gas prices got you down in the dumps?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

These days, driving is EXPENSIVE! On top of that, burning gas is awful for the environment!  Is there a better way to get where we’re going?

Enter Nabila Huq and team at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado. They developed a new method for making fuel using FOOD WASTE! When food waste goes to landfills, it ferments and produces greenhouse gasses like methane. But Huq’s team manipulated the fermentation process to turn the waste into FATTY ACIDS instead! In our bodies, fatty acids store energy. But in the lab, they can be converted into JET FUEL!

Fuel produced by this method could cost the same as petroleum-based fuel. Alright… BUT this method is CARBON NEGATIVE! This means it removes more carbon from the atmosphere than it adds.

So instead of driving, it’ll be cheaper to fly to work! Nah.

Reference: Huq, N. A., Hafenstine, G. R., Huo, X., Nguyen, H., Tifft, S. M., Conklin, D. R., Stück, D., Stunkel, J., Yang, Z., Heyne, J. S., Wiatrowski, M. R., Zhang, Y., Tao, L., Zhu, J., McEnally, C. S., Christensen, E. D., Hays, C., Van Allsburg, K. M., Unocic, K. A., … Vardon, D. R. (2021). Toward net-zero sustainable aviation fuel with wet waste–derived volatile fatty acids. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(13).