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Although many forms of transportation will become more sustainable in the coming decades through electrification and other alternative forms of energy, a majority of airlines will continue to rely on jet fuel. Currently, batteries are too large, heavy and inefficient to replace jet fuel for long-distance, high-speed flights so more research is required to develop advanced batteries that may allow some hybridisation of air transport. Similar to hybrid cars, this means that planes would be able to alternate between running on jet fuel and electric batteries.

In the near future, airlines that only travel short-distances may be able to completely transition to electric motors and batteries, like Harbour Air in Vancouver, BC (see case study). Despite this, short domestic flights, such as Toronto to Ottawa, are expected to become less common in the coming decades as rail networks expand and become more efficient. This will make it less expensive and easier to travel to nearby cities. Meanwhile, cross-country flights will largely remain the same since they are not easily replaced with rail networks given the distance and time required for travel.

Overall, higher efficiency standards from government will lead to improvements in engine and fuel efficiency. Part of this improved efficiency will come from blending jet fuel with biofuel, which will become more common in the next few years and help to reduce the amount of harmful emissions entering the atmosphere. Biofuels are fuels produced from biomass, such as agricultural waste, while fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource extracted from the Earth.

To learn about the transportation work Pollution Probe is doing, check out our website!

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