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Fuelling the debate

Transport relies upon fuel, and for aviation, kerosene will remain the optimum fuel choice for some years to come - yet with concerns over climate change, volatile oil prices and questions being asked about how long fossil fuels can last, the search is on for alternatives that may offer an environmental advantage as well as security of supply.

"Alternative fuels are very much a pre-competitive issue with several industries working together and all aviation companies playing an integral part in seeking global solutions," says Ric Parker, Rolls-Royce Director of Research and Technology.

"The nature of aviation demands uncompromised levels of safety and reliability, which means any technical innovations must be thoroughly evaluated and certificated to prove suitability. Climate change concerns would also demand that any new fuel was sustainable, while it would also need to be able to be manufactured in the sort of quantities required by an industry that currently uses 200 million gallons every day," he continues.

"These three pillars, - suitability, sustainability and scalability - are essential for alternative fuel developments," says Ric.

Aviation has made great strides in reducing its environmental footprint - 70 per cent reduction in fuel burn per passenger kilometre in the last 50 years - and recognises the need to continue driving down emissions, and that aircraft, engine and fuel technology all will help provide the solution.