A British pilot is hoping to set a world record for long-distance flight when he attempts to fly from Sydney to London in a small single-engine plane. But Jeremy Roswell’s biggest goal is to prove the flight can be accomplished using diesel fuel made from recycled plastic.
The 10,000-mile flight will take place using a four-seat Cessna 182 that has been modified to use a diesel engine. Cessna is currently developing its own diesel-powered 182 (pictured above), but an aftermarket modification has been available for the past few years.
The fuel will be supplied by Ireland-based Cynar. The company produces liquid fuels from end-of-life plastics using pyrolysis, which melts the plastics in an anaerobic environment and converts the boiled off gases into fuels. The company claims the process is cleaner than the production of normal diesel and will work well in existing aviation engines. But as is widely acknowledged in the aviation industry, the challenge is how the fuel will work at higher altitudes where cold temperatures present a problem.
Cynar expects the fuel will work up to 8,000 feet. Roswell says he will make the long trip at around 5,000 feet, relatively low for long-distance flying, in which pilots prefer to climb to at least 10,000 feet, where airplanes can typically travel faster using less fuel.
The company already has a facility in Ireland producing the plastics-based diesel and says it’s developing a larger plant in the United Kingdom. Cynar says around 11,000 pounds of plastic will be needed to produce the roughly 1,000 gallons of diesel needed to make the trip.