Antarctica tour operator to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel to reduce CO2

Posted by Taylah Strauss on 15 November 2021

White Desert – a British expedition conducting company – has announced that they are in the process of securing a test batch of 40 000 litres of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) to be used for this season’s operations.

White Desert CEO Patrick Woodhead stated ‘We do so much to minimise our impact in Antarctica, from building specially-designed camps to removing all waste each season, but the one area we couldn’t reduce was the fuel we were burning in our planes. All we could do was offset. With the advent of SAF fuels, suddenly all this has changed, and we’re delighted to invest in what is undoubtedly the future of aviation.’

The test batch falls in line with White Desert’s aim to replace all Jet A-1 fuel it uses in Antarctica with SAF over the next three to five years. This is also in line with the Paris Agreement and the United Kingdom Net Zero target.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel – What is it?

Air travel is responsible for approximately 2.5% of global carbon dioxide emissions, making it a great source of contention in environmental debates. In response to this, the aviation industry has committed itself to combat climate change by reducing its carbon footprint by at least 50% by the year 2050.

For this reason, SAF seems like the better alternative. SAF is produced from waste oils and fats and creates an 80% smaller carbon footprint, as it reduces lifecycle carbon emissions. In addition, SAF generates fewer sulphur oxides, reducing soot particle emission. This is particularly relevant in Antarctica, as the black colour of soot absorbs the heat of the sun, worsening snowmelt. SAF then gets blended with conventional jet fuel to make it suitable for aircraft engines. Thus, waste that would otherwise clog up landfills, is now being reused.

Though SAF is not entirely pollution-free, it certainly seems like the lesser evil.

Picture: Derek Oyen/Unsplash


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