Could food waste provide cleaner jet fuel?

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36 min listen

Researchers in the US have discovered a way of turning food waste into a type of paraffin that can be used in jet engines. Now, the concept of bio fuels is not new, but normally biofuels have to come from ‘virgin’ vegetables that are grown especially for fuel. This alternative method is able to turn food waste, animal manure and waste water into a competitive, cleaner jet fuel.

Could this solve two issues at once? Simultaneously reducing food waste and creating a cleaner jet fuel? Joining the Table Talk Podcast this week is Derek Vardon, Research Scientist and Project Team Leader, NREL to explain their research, how it will help, and how the first flights will be taking the air with Southwest Airlines in the US in 2023.

About our panel

Derek Vardon, Research Scientist and Project Team Leader, NREL

Derek Vardon is a Research Scientist and Project Team Leader working at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL, USA) to decarbonize aviation and heavy-duty ground transportation with low-cost, low-net carbon fuels produced from biomass and waste. He is the author of over 30 peer-reviewed scientific publications on biofuels and biobased chemicals, inventor on multiple pending and issued U.S. patents, and affiliate faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at the Colorado School of Mines.

He is most passionate when working to get technology out of the lab and into the marketplace with interdisciplinary teams that leverage national laboratory, academic, and industry capabilities to address critical technical barriers for sustainable transportation. Derek gained a hands-on appreciation for energy technology while serving 6 years in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear power Electrician’s Mate following high school. Afterwards, he received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

About NREL

NREL is the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory which looks to advance the science and engineering of energy efficiency, sustainable transportation and renewable power technologies, providing knowledge to integrate and optimise energy systems helping to shape a highly efficient and resilient energy future.

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