Here’s a breakthrough that could re-define the way we fuel airliners. Virgin Atlantic is teaming up with LanzaTech to develop what Virgin labels “a world-first low carbon aviation fuel with half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative.”
Here’s how it works: waste gasses from industrial steel production are captured, fermented and chemically converted via Swedish Biofuels technology into jet fuel. The process essentially recycles gasses that would be burned into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
Within two to three years Virgin Atlantic plans to put the new fuel in aircraft plying routes from Shanghai and Deli to London Heathrow, the carrier’s UK hub.
Right now the technology is in its pilot phase down in New Zealand. Look for a larger demonstration facility to be commissioned in Shanghai later this year, and in commercial operation by 2014. That’s the plan at least.
LanzaTech estimates that this process has potential application in 65 percent of the planet’s steel mills. That means the low-carbon airplane propellant could work worldwide. Virgin Atlantic President Sir Richard Branson contends “the steel industry alone [could] deliver over 15 billion gallons of jet fuel annually. The potential is very exciting.”
Branson has a penchant for pulling off what some deem impossible. His airline has helped pioneer new ways of getting from Point A to Point B. Virgin was the first air carrier to run a biofueled test flight.
Rendering waste gasses into commercially-viable aviation fuel on a widespread basis is exciting, but LanzaTech Chief Executive Dr. Jennifer Holmgren concedes, “There is still work to be done and logistical hurdles to cross.”
Just how rapidly LanzaTech, Virgin Atlantic, Swedish Biofuels and Boeing are able to surmount those hurdles will play out over the next third of a decade.
Do you believe biofuels will play a major role in keeping airfares low and airlines solvent? Let us know.
- US airline fuel efficiency
- EU aviation policy lacks vision, say regional airlines
- easyJet’s Moscow route kills Heathrow dominance; Norwegian establishes London LGW base
- Southwest Airlines Introduces New Era of Customer Comfort and Sustainability With Evolution of Cabin Interior Design
- Oslo, Norway – Expensive And Lots Of Swedish People!