10 December 2011

Saving fuel

If it is true that there is enough fuel in the full fuel tank of a jumbo jet to drive the average car four times around the world (hat-tip to 20 Mind Blowing Facts You Probably Didn’t Know) I wonder which has more impact on the environment -- driving or flying.

It seems to be a toss-up.

The distance from here to Durban is 600 km, which we could just about make on a tank of fuel. So if 300 people drove to Durban they would travel 180000 km. Four times round the world is 160300 km so for 300 people on a jumbo jet that is about 535 km, so that seems better than going by car.

But that assumes one person, one car. So if there are three people in a car, it would tip the scales in favour of the car.

But then a jumbo jet wouldn't use a full tank of fuel to go to Durban.

Oh, I give up.


Pseudonym said...

All your questions are answered. Or, more correctly, it is shown why the question doesn't have a good answer.

Sergey said...

Modern jets are quite efficient on long distances and full load. A380 consumes less than 3 litres of fuel per passenger over 100 km. And it is mostly to struggle against air drag. I suppose slower land vehicles can do better, but I doubt they do in practice (question of full load and keeping constant low speed without acceleration).

James Higham said...

Then again, Steve, who'd want to be in Durban during COP17?

Moggsy said...

I excpect more people in a car makes for a bigger load and that would use more fuel.

Plus I guess road trips can be fun... but how long would it take, what about meals and rest stops?

I did read somewhere that jet planes deposit exhaust high up where it would not ordinarily get tho.

Moggsy said...

ps. OOh and there is the cost of building and maintaining the road network. That would use fuel and concrete and tarmacadam, more than a couple of airports I guess.


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