Can Synthetic Fuel and Biofuel Save the Aviation Industry?


The aviation industry now uses a staggering 5 million barrels of jet fuel every day. Many of the worlds largest oil fields are nearing depletion. With peak oil production finally upon us, or very nearly so, the inevitable downward spiral of fuel supplies is no longer a doomsday theory. Without a viable solution, aviation after peak oil will eventually be grounded.

Anticipated Growth

Growth estimates for global passenger traffic range between 3% and 5% per year. Airbus is literally betting the company on the new A380 . Massive airport expansions are underway, worldwide, to cope with the projected increases. Considering how many airports are running beyond capacity, these seem like wise business decisions.

But what about the looming crisis in world oil production? Is there a plan for aviation after peak oil? Yes. Is aviation preparing quickly enough to avert disaster? Maybe.

Peak Oil

Inevitably, oil production must reach its maximum and then begin a downward slide. In 1956, M. King Hubbert predicted that the United States would hit peak oil production in 1970. Known as “Hubbert’s Peak”, his prediction was quite accurate. He later estimated that world peak oil production would be around 2000.

We have been able to postpone this peak through enhanced recovery methods, conservation, and especially, global economic slow downs. We are very close to peak oil now, despite some very rosy USGS predictions that indicate peak oil production will not occur until 2036. Considering that oil production has virtually flat lined since 1998, this seems a little far fetched. Kuwait recently announced that world peak oil production will happen in 2014.

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