Podcast’s Essential Bites:
[3:54] BM: "The Concorde was the pinnacle of speed, if you will, it was a technological marvel, although it was a bit ahead of its day. It wasn't environmentally or economically sustainable. But a lot has changed since the 60s when the Concorde was developed. We've seen advancements in jet engine technologies. Overture, our commercial airliner, will fly using modern turbofan engines that are quieter and more fuel efficient."
[5:04] BM: "Sustainable aviation fuel has been in development now for 15 or 20 years, but it's really now reaching an inflection point where it's very mature. At its core what sustainable aviation fuel or SAF does is it closes the carbon loop. For every atom of carbon that's emitted, you're pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. You can do this through a number of different mechanisms. [...] In order to qualify as a SAF it has to achieve at least a 50% carbon reduction. And there are a lot of technologies that are enabling true net zero carbon operation."
[5:58] BM: "One of my favorite technologies is called power to liquid. This is where you use renewable energy to pull carbon out of the atmosphere, combine that with a hydrogen molecule, and then you're you're left with a hydrocarbon that is nearly chemical identical to fossil fuels, but has a net zero carbon footprint, because you've pulled out as much carbon as what you eventually put back into the atmosphere."
[10:40] BM: "Supersonics are still, when we think about the technology S-curve, they're still at the bottom of that curve. We have innovated extensively from the Concorde, but this is still only the second iteration of supersonics. So our vehicle is catering to business class passengers. We expect that airlines will be able to operate it profitably at existing business class fares. But that's not where we want to stop. [...] Eventually, we hope that the future of aviation is that everybody is flying supersonic and that we really unlock the benefits of speed to the entire global population."
[11:34] BM: "We are committed to net zero carbon and have very aggressive timelines to achieve that. We're also designing our vehicle to operate on 100% SAF. Currently, there's a blend limit. It's only allowed to be used at 50%, with the other 50% being traditional fossil jet fuel. And so we look forward to a future where all of aviation is powered by renewable fuels, be it electric for shorter flights, hydrogen for midlength flights, and then net zero sustainable aviation fuels for long haul flights."
[29:40] BM: "Currently, aviation accounts for between 2% and 3% of global emissions. [...] The biggest challenge for the entire industry to decarbonize is availability of sustainable aviation fuel. Even at the current prices, there is extremely high demand, and unfortunately limited supply. But I think that's just the reality of an industrial process. So it takes four to six years to build a sustainable aviation fuel plant. [...] Hopefully four to five years from now, we will see SAF supply rapidly rising to meet demand."
[32:49] BM: "SAF is [...] not just one thing. [...] There are nine different production pathways that are currently approved, two or three more are going to be approved here shortly and there's another several dozen in development. And they use a broad array of different raw materials to produce this fuel, ranging from cellulosic cover crops to municipal solid waste, [...] forest and agricultural residues, waste cooking oils. [...] There have been multiple studies [that] show that there is adequate biomass feedstock to meet aviation demand for sustainable aviation fuel. [...] Those power to liquid technologies will only be limited by the availability of renewable energy."
[36:51] BM: "Sustainable aviation fuel is so important because that [...] will enable the entire fleet to decarbonize at 50, 60, 70% carbon reductions."
[39:16] BM: "[My prediction is that] every aircraft will be operating on SAF or hydrogen by 2050. [...] The future I'd love to see is that every flight that you hop on, is flying supersonically. [...] I think from here you go either larger, so you can carry more passengers, longer range, so you can go further without stopping, or faster."