Aviation fuels and Peak Oil

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Publication date: 2008-12-19
First published in: Uppsala University
Authors: E. Nygren


In this thesis, future aviation fuel supply is compared to future aviation fuel demand. Most aviation fuels are jet fuels originating from crude oil. The crude oil must be refined to be useful, and jet fuel is only one of many products that can be derived from crude oil. Jet fuel is extracted from the middle distillates fraction and competes, for example, with the production of diesel.

Crude oil is a limited natural resource subject to depletion, and several reports indicate that the world’s crude oil production is close to the maximum level and that it will start to decrease after reaching this maximum. On the other hand, it is predicted by the aviation industry that aviation traffic will keep on increasing. The industry has put up ambitious goals to increase the fuel efficiency of the aviation fleet through better engines, better flying routes and better aerodynamics, but still, the demand for aviation fuel would grow. Traffic is predicted to grow by 5% per year to 2026, fuel demand by about 3% per year. At the same time, aviation fuel production is predicted to decrease by several percents a year after the crude oil production peak is reached. This scenario envisages a substantial lack of jet fuel by the year 2026. The aviation industry will have a hard time replacing this with fuel from other sources even if air traffic remains at today’s level.

Published in: Uppsala University, diploma thesis
Available from: Global Energy Systems

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