Green travel: Electric planes, recycled roads and is that fuel made from coffee?

Tap to watch a video report by ITV News Meridian's James Dunham

We are all being encouraged to think about reducing our carbon footprint be it through recycling, swapping short car journeys for a bike ride and perhaps eating less meat, all to reduce our carbon footprint.

When it comes to travel, the industry is working to improve the technology and processes to become eco-friendly.

How this instant coffee shaped catalyst has been used to create a carbon-neutral jet fuel

This key ingredient has enabled the University of Oxford to create the carbon neutral product Credit:

After ten years of research and experimentation, the University of Oxford they've come up with a way with converting carbon dioxide from the air into a jet which fuel which is carbon-neutral.

These tiny fragments, which look a lot like instant coffee, is the key ingredient in making the product.

The iron catalyst is mixed in a reactor with carbon dioxide from the air and hydrogen.

  • Dr Tiancun Xiao explains the process

"We think it's a real game changer", says Professor Peter Edwards from University of Oxford.

"Our plan is that for the next one to two years it's going to be about building a demonstration plant and a pilot plant and we're already in discussions with several companies to do this.

"One would hope that within five years you could have situation where you have large scale production."

Is this the flight of the future?

  • Watch: This is how an electric engine could look. As CEO of Wright Electric Jeff Engler explains how the technology will help the environment.

Environmentalists argue the only way to really help reduce emissions is for people not to fly so often.

As the aviation industry reopens after being grounded through the pandemic, airports like Gatwick believe it can grow with improvements in environmentally friendly technology.

Easyjet is working with American based firm Wright Electric to create a plane with an electric engine, a zero-emission aircraft that would carry 186 passengers on short haul routes.

The company plans for ground testing in 2021 and 2022, and flight testing as early as 2023.

Jeff Engler, CEO of Wright Electric said,

"What's going into it to make it possible? If you think of a car let's say you think of a Tesla versus a BMW or Mercedes type airplane. The car itself is mostly the same but under the hood, under the bonnet it's different. Instead of having an engine you have electric motors and instead of having gasoline you have batteries and that's the same thing that's happening in the aerospace world."

Recycled roads

Roadways believe its environmentally friendly construction process is the way forward Credit:

When it comes to driving a lot of emphasis is placed on people buying electric cars but one construction company in Hailsham in Sussex believes more of a difference can be made if all roads are built and maintained in their environmentally friendly way.

"We're putting old roads into the new roads", says co-owner Victoria Vasiliauskaite.

Roadways reuses old tarmac which already contains concrete meaning far less fresh resources need to be added for it to be used, producing between 40 and 70 per cent less carbon - compared to traditional road construction.

  • Roadway’s Victoria Vasiliauskaite explains the challenges facing the industry

Victoria says, "Why do we keep dredging seas, why do we keep quarrying when all of this is available?

"Construction industry is responsible for 40% of the global carbon dioxide emissions and if we look more into these construction standards that are more than 40%-70% environmentally friendly I am more than certain we can reduce construction industry emissions by half in a very short period of time." Recycling and reinventing what fuels travel, the industry believes will help lead the planet to a far less damaging destination.