IAF to fly AN-32 on blended biodiesel for 200 hours

Source: The post is based on the article “IAF to fly AN-32 on blended biodiesel for 200 hours” published in The Hindu on 17th September 2022.

What is the News?

Indian Air Force(IAF) is planning to fly an AN-32 transport aircraft modified to operate on 10% blended biodiesel for 200 flight hours in the next six months.

Why is AN-32 aircraft being operated on blended biodiesel?

The aviation industry both civil and military is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases which cause global warming. 

For instance, the annual fuel consumption of the IAF for 2021-22 was 6.2 lakh kilo litres which contributed around 15 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Hence, it is important that the industry finds ways to reduce its carbon footprint for global efforts to achieve ‘net zero emissions’ to be successful. 

What are the steps being taken to reduce aviation carbon emissions?

Indian Air Force: In 2019, AN-32 aircraft, powered by a blend of biodiesel flew over the Rajpath during Republic Day.

This biofuel was extracted from Jatropha plant seeds using a technology patented by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Institute of Petroleum,  Dehradun.

The plan is eventually to expand the usage of aviation turbine fuel blended with biodiesel to all fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft through evaluation and certification.

Such usage has the dual benefit of reducing carbon footprint as well reducing the usage of fossil fuels which will also result in savings for the IAF.

Civilian Aircraft: Airbus has plans to offer 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) compatibility on its commercial aircraft latest by 2030. 

What are the challenges in this?

There are significant challenges in production and supply chain to ensure the IAF gets enough Jatropha and at reasonable rates.

For instance, IAF would require over 3,000 kilo litres of biofuel annually just for operating the AN-32 fleet with a 10% biofuel mix.

To overcome this challenge, India is planning to set up its first mass production bio-ATF plant at Mangalore in Karnataka.

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