Australian pilot set for trans-ocean flight using plastic-derived fuel source

According to Ecomagination, the green energy media arm of General Electric, one Australian pilot is set to make history with a 12,000-mile journey from Sydney to London. While this alone may not sound exciting, his power source – a synthetic fuel made in Ireland and derived from melted-down plastics – could change the course of modern aviation.

Jeremy Roswell is set to pilot a modified Cessna 172 roughly 1,000 miles per day on the trip. At that pace, he could complete his quest in less than two weeks with stops for refueling and rest. Speaking with Ecomagination, Roswell admitted that he wasn't exactly sure which route he would take, though it may involve a few layovers in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Central Europe.

The fuel, made by Irish firm Cynar plc, is derived from a process known as pyrolysis. On its website, the manufacturing company reports that its machinery removes oxygen from plastic products by heating them at specific temperatures, capturing the vapors and condensing them into a usable energy source.

During the interview, Roswell conceded that the dangers of long-range flying were worrisome, especially considering that he had lost several family members to similar fates. However, he discussed training in simulated survival scenarios, including one course that involved escaping from a submerged airplane. Another training session had him left abandoned in the Australian desert, where he had to survive on rabbits and eventually paddle a canoe through shark-infested waters.

Roswell's flight represents a real-world test of a fuel technology that could lead to a new way for renewable energy sources to power our world. With cheaper-to-make fuel, airlines using similar products could conceivably lower their prices and make it easier for consumers to fly longer distances. At the very least, his journey will be a big step forward for the green fuel movement.

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