The Uncertain Future of Jet Fuel

The Uncertain Future of Jet Fuel

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Writer/Narrator: Brian McManus
Editor: Dylan Hennessy (
Animator: Mike Ridolfi (
Sound: Graham Haerther (
Thumbnail: Simon Buckmaster

[8] &,Vapors%20are%20heavier%20than%20air.
[9] &
[19] I can’t be arsed to find a reference for this one. I have a masters degree in aeronautical engineering, just trust me.

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Thank you to AP Archive for access to their archival footage.

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  1. At 14:45, I think the graph lines are the wrong way round – when super-chilled the volumetric energy density should be higher (rather than much worse!) than at room temperature.

  2. Can't believe the nonsense sometimes.
    Hey if all the cars & coal plants were removed then airlines would make up 78% of emissions, and if we killed all the cows too it would be 100% oh NOOOOO!!! So the AF what, it's the *ACTUAL VOLUME* of output that matters, not the %. The earth can certainly handle 2-3% of our current emissions totals. Air travel is a very practical and important aspect of our current over-worked existence. If you want to focus on a *real* greenhouse issue, focus your attention on the meat farming industry.

  3. Pfft, no, Hydrogens main feed stock right now is methane a fossil fuel though steam reforming by 95% vs 5% of hydrogen made from water via electrolysis.

    Steam reforming also ontop of using methane it also uses power so if you add up the energy content of the fuel used and the energy in turning it into hydrogen you only get back 50% of the energy and also release CO2, Hydrogen is currently a poor rebranding for fossil fuels.

  4. Waste oil is a pitifully small resource to make biofuels. In the UK only about 1% of the country's diesel can be supplied by this route. The total amount of jet fuel used in the world in a normal year is about 300 million tons. The growing of palm oil has not always been done in the most sympathetic manner but the crop still has a great potential if it can get over its bad image. The total amount of tropical rain forest in the world is about 7 million km2 and there is a similar area that used to be tropical rain forest. This means that there are potentially millions of km2 that could be used for palm oil production without cutting down any more forest provided the current users can be moved aside, which of course could be difficult but not impossible. The oil palm can currently produce around 5 T/hectare or 500 T/ km2 per year and more could be possible using selective breeding and/or genetic engineering. So it would only take 600,000 km2 to grow enough palm oil to completely replace jet fuel compared with the millions of km2 that could potentially be used. There are other plants that could also be used such as macauba which can produce oil on degraded savannah type land and the fermentation of various forestry and agricultural waste products. None of this is easy but its not completely out of reach.

  5. 21:28 Nice to have a video that's both enthusiastic towards technological solutions, yet acknowledges that some unsustainable practices should probably cost more. It's refreshing to see both approaches combined rather than opposed, kudos for that! And excellent video as usual.

  6. Great video no doubt. For me there is no question ethanol is a clear winner. Hydrogen has too many problems.
    The interesting question is if there is enough arable land to produce ethanol from sugar cane just for all EU.
    Well, Brazil is most efficient and biggest producer of ethanol from sugar cane in the world. It covers 50% of the road transport of the country using 1% of the arable land that is 3,6 mln ha with rate 8000 l/ha.

    Now the primary energy consumption of the whole EU from crude oil is 20 EJ = 5 556TWh in 2020.
    Crude oil is in 90% used to produce liquid fuels: petrol, diesel, kerosene, LPG. It is used in road, air and sea transport.

    Now the ethanol has a volumetric energy density 24 MJ/l = 6,67 kWh/l. That gives from one hectare 8000 l/ha * 6,67 kWh/l = 53,33 MWh/ha. So from 1 mln hectares we have 53,33 TWh/mln ha. That means that replacing all oil requires land of:
    5556TWh / 53,33TWh/mln ha = 104,2 mln ha.

    The arable land in Brazil has 355 mln ha. That means consumption of the EU liquid fuels requires 29,34% of the arable land of the Brazil.

    Well good news, growing sugar canes on around 30% of arable land of Brazil (around 12,2 % of the country) would completely replace crude oil use in whole EU. That would be difficult to do but feasible.

    Side effect would be that burning bagassa would cover most of the Brazil need for electricity, but there are no specific data to calculate that.

  7. 9:38 Volumetric energy density of ethanol is 61% of kerosene.
    That is not right. Ethanol has 24,0 MJ/l and JET-A1 has 34.7MJ/l.
    That makes 1l of ethanol containing 69,2 % of kerosene 1l energy.

    Ethanol is the best. Hydrogen is a disaster waiting to happened. An examples of Hindenburg, Challenger, Fukushima all are examples of hydrogen fires and explosions

  8. You say airplane emissions will rise to 25% of the total but doesn’t that really mean that the total will fall by 90%? If we eliminate 90% of emissions, isn’t that good enough? Where’s the line here because zero is not possible.

  9. “As excess renewable electricity enters the market”.

    That’s not going to happen. Ever. At a minimum corps will keep supply down artificially to force markets to keep prices (read: profits) higher.

    Just ask California.

  10. The first 8 seconds of video. I used to fuel planes for United; maybe some of the very planes shown here. The 757 was the easiest to fuel. You could drive right under the wing, stop at the end of the engine cowling, and you're in position.

  11. Isn't the water vapour exaust from idrogen even worse than CO2 when in the upper atmosphere? Are planes high enough for this to be a concern like it is with rockets?

  12. 3:33 Well, I hope the chains aren't "impacting" the boiling points but are affecting them.
    9:28 C and F refer to coulombs and farads. The symbols for degrees Celsius and degrees Fahrenheit are °C and °F, respectively.
    11:10 They have a much larger effect, unless you're literally referring to them crashing into the Earth's atmosphere.

  13. I don't see leakage of hydrogen as a problem if we are integrating the tanks with plastic and carbon Fibre (see toyota's claim of negligible leakage) and even if hydrogen does leak it has no potential to be dangerous because it would instantly dissipate in case of rupture ( not sure about liquid hydrogen though)

  14. Honestly things like this are ok. Some industries may never be able to be entirely carbon neutral. That’s ok. Rockets surely never will be and maybe planes don’t have to either. If they’re only responsible for 2-3% of emissions then that 25% figure by (I think he said 2040?) just reflects on how much carbon we’ve removed from other industries, not that planes will increase their emissions drastically. We have natural processes to remove carbon. We are just hopelessly and hilariously outpacing our planet’s ability to remove it with our rate of emitting it. Cars, boats, energy, industry these things can be drastically more impactful without impacting the quality of life we know today. Switching to electric cars is not going to impact one’s life as much as the reintroduction of planes as transport exclusively for the rich. Installing solar panels will make way more of a difference will less impact on our lives than making meat illegal. (Yes we neat to eat less from a health perspective but it’s factor in our ways of life can be maintained). We can settle with low emissions. Our planet can accommodate that. What we need to do is cut them dramatically to the point where our planet’s efforts can actually handle us. The more we cut the longer we have. Let’s tackle the bigger fish first.

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