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Wednesday, May 25, 2022
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DFW Airport Using Food Grease to Power Planes

Business, Featured

Employee fueling an aircraft | Image by Karolis Kavolelis

DFW International Airport has begun utilizing spent cooking oil from its many restaurants’ fryers as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to standard jet fuel. The recycling initiative is a part of DFW’s goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.

SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) is a type of aviation fuel made from recycled cooking oil collected and stored in tanks until it can be transported and processed.

DFW’s vice president of environmental affairs, Robert Horton, commented, “We generate a large amount of waste, many undesired goods that have to go somewhere.”

The program started in 2019 in just two terminals and has grown to over 200 restaurants across five terminals. Concessionaire Chalmer McWilliams, who has three McDonald’s restaurants in the DFW airport, said he has been looking forward to using the oil from his fryers to power planes since he learned of the program.

“Mind-blowing, right?” McWilliams remarked.

DFW EVP of Customer Experience and Revenue Management Ken Buchanan explained, “The team worked really, very hard with guaranteeing that we have the necessary partners and protocols in place, so it is easy for them to engage.”

DFW Airport collects about 4,000 gallons of cooking oil and stores it in tanks. Every gallon of reused cooking oil yields roughly 0.8 gallons of SAF.

To produce the fuel, the airport works with a firm called Neste. Neste retrieves used oil and transports it to a processing facility, where it is converted to SAF. The company then distributes the renewable fuel.

Neste estimates that SAF now accounts for 1% of all aircraft fuel use. Still, the company believes airlines are willing to utilize more.

Neste Technical Services Manager Pratik Chandhoke commented that airlines and aviation play a considerable part in global emissions. He claims SAF can lower emissions by up to 80% from the start of manufacturing to the point that the flying planes are burning the fuel.

“The fried food smell is gone, and it’s left with a clear liquid,” Chandhoke said, joking, “it does not smell like french fries at all.”

The first delivery of SAF to DFW Airport’s private terminal represented a vital milestone just a few months ago.

SAF is currently difficult to sell because of its high price. Horton estimates SAF is still two to six times more expensive than regular jet fuel, but Chandhoke believes prices are coming down.

For comparison, according to IATA, jet fuel currently sells at $4.15 per gallon, while SAF is close to $9 per gallon.

“We already believe we have the infrastructure set up. We have fuel distribution systems,” Horton says. He continued that it is just a matter of getting the supply at the right economic rates.       

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12 days ago

Wow, this is incredible! Looking forward to hearing more about this awesome jet fuel alternative!

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