The Confluence of Sustainable Aviation Fuel and Hybrid-Electric Aircraft

April 3, 2023

Modern airplanes themselves seemed impossible centuries ago. Today, we can improve these modern miracles even more with the technology and resources available to us, advancing the aviation industry while protecting the environment. 

Two of these emerging technologies are sustainable aviation fuel and hybrid-electric propulsion. We’ve adopted both in our own Odys Aviation aircraft to protect the planet while addressing the realities of flight. Read on to learn more about these developments and why they’re essential for the future of aviation.

What Is Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)?

SAF’s chemistry is similar to that of traditional fossil jet fuel — so similar, in fact, that it can be dropped into traditional aircraft infrastructure without modifications. SAF is produced from sustainable feedstocks, which are renewable, biological materials that can be used directly as fuel or converted to another form of fuel or energy product. 

Common sources of feedstock for SAF include:

  • Used cooking oil
  • Other non-palm waste oils from animals or plants
  • Packaging, paper, textile, and food scrap waste
  • Waste wood and other forestry waste
  • Energy crops like fast-growing plants and algae

Feedstocks can be combined to produce SAF, which is one of the most promising ways to reduce CO2 emissions for the future.

How Does It Compare to Traditional Aviation Fuels?

Traditional fuel packs a lot of energy for its weight, which is part of what makes it essential for quick, long-distance air travel. But it comes with a huge environmental downside: CO2 emissions. A roundtrip flight from London to San Francisco has a carbon footprint of nearly one ton of CO2 emissions per economy ticket. Since the aviation industry is only projected to grow, it’s essential we minimize these emissions as much as possible. 

If SAF has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions, why aren’t more airlines using it? Right now, SAF is admittedly more costly than traditional fuel, which prevents wider usage in the industry at the moment. As we refine production for turning feedstocks into fuel, SAF will become even more accessible to airlines. Despite the initial higher cost, SAF has immense potential to help solve the CO2 emission crisis and ultimately reduce costs in future decades.

Compared to traditional fuel, SAF reduces CO2 emissions by an impressive 80% across its lifecycle, from the production method to the trip to the airport. SAF can be blended up to 50% with traditional jet fuel. Any aircraft certified for using the current specification of fuel can use SAF. It’s accessible and environmentally friendly. 

Because SAF is handled like traditional fuel, there’s no need to make modifications to the fueling infrastructure of an aircraft. Designated as a drop-in fuel, SAF can be used in both existing aircraft and airport infrastructure. It doesn’t require costly modifications and yields a massive environmental benefit, which in turn reduces costs for the aviation industry and the world as a whole.

What Is Hybrid-Electric Aircraft Propulsion?

Hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion is another part of creating a more sustainable kind of air travel. Traditional aircraft are gas powered, whereas hybrid-electric aircraft run based on the principles in their name. 

Hybrid propulsion is any vehicle propulsion system that includes two or more sources of propulsion in one design, which can be used together or alternately. Traditional gas-powered aircraft only have one source of power to draw from. In comparison, hybrid-electric aircraft run on a mixture of electric batteries and sustainable aviation fuel. These aircraft have a motor/generator charging battery that allows them to fly on fully electric power. Alternatively, they can have one gas turbine active while transferring electric power to the other. Whatever the specific design, hybrid-electric propulsion is the key to efficient flights that don’t sacrifice passengers’ needs or our environment.

How Does It Compare to Traditional Aircraft?

As with SAF, it’s important to compare hybrid-electric propulsion to its traditional relatives that run purely on gas. For air travel to remain sustainable, we have to reduce our carbon footprints, and that’s exactly what hybrid-electric propulsion can help us do. 

Looking back at the London to San Francisco example, that’s just one instance of a frequently traveled route that results in literal tons of CO2 emissions every time it’s flown. With our hybrid design, our aircraft achieves 76% reduction in CO2 emissions versus traditional aircraft of similar size. We can transport passengers along heavily traveled domestic routes without adding to the crisis. This new kind of propulsion offers both airlines and passengers flexibility, especially along routes that are already in high demand.

A Revolutionary Confluence of Technologies

Together, hybrid-electric aircraft powered by sustainable aviation fuel represent a massive reduction in carbon emissions. Odys Aviation’s hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft delivers this sustainability while keeping up with traditional aircraft both in design and practicality. It vectors powerful upward thrust with mechanisms operators are already comfortable using. Our sleek, modern design ensures accessibility and comfort for passengers and airlines alike. 

Our aircraft has range, speed, cruising altitude, and passenger capacity that are comparable to traditional aircraft of the same size. Here’s the rundown. 

The Odys Aviation plane will:

  • Travel up to 750 miles
  • Use all-electric battery power for trips up to 200 miles
  • Travel up to 345 miles per hour (555 km per hour)
  • Cruise at a maximum range of 30,000 feet
  • Hold nine passengers along with two pilots

Our design uses SAF and hybrid-electric propulsion for sustainable travel, and we’ve got another stand-out feature that sets us apart from traditional aircraft.

A Step Further: VTOL vs. Runway-Bound Aircraft

VTOL aircraft can take off and land at any helipad or runway, reducing congestion at airports and increasing optionality for operators and commuters. Our aircraft has VTOL capability, making it a much more flexible option to provide passengers with a variety of flights. This capability furthers the benefits discussed above, making hybrid-electric VTOL powered by sustainable aviation fuel that much more sustainable.

We’re not constrained to long runways and traditional airports. Our aircraft can improve commutes between cities and even between some countries, especially in urban areas where congestion, delays, and overcrowding are all huge problems. 

Our goal is to make air travel sustainable with the environmental materials and energy sources we use. But we don’t stop there. We also want to be sustainable in that passengers can rely on us not to add hours of extra travel time to their flights. We want to get passengers from door to door in half the time.

Learn More About the Odys Aviation Aircraft

Our next-gen design ensures advanced environmental sustainability while preserving the familiarity of traditional flight. Learn more about the future of flight with Odys Aviation.

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Follow the Odys Aviation team as we continue test flights, earn type-certification, and change the way that the world travels. Stay in the loop as we take to the skies.