Virgin Atlantic biofuel breakthrough
- Oct 12, 2011
Virgin Atlantic has announced a really exciting development!
In a partnership with LanzaTech they have created a breakthrough low carbon aviation fuel with just half the carbon footprint of the fossil fuel alternative, Kerosene. The process involves waste gases from industrial steel production being captured, fermented and chemically converted using Swedish Biofuels technology for use as a jet fuel.
Within two to three years Virgin Atlantic plans to be the first commercial airline use the new fuel on its routes from Shanghai and Delhi to London Heathrow. The technology is currently being piloted in New Zealand, a larger demonstration facility will be commissioned in Shanghai this year, and the first commercial operation will be in place in China by 2014. Following successful implementation, a wider roll-out could include operations in the UK and the rest of the world.
The key part of this new method is that it recycles waste gases that would otherwise be burnt-off into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Watch the video below to see how the process works…
Speaking at a press conference yesterday Richard Branson, the President of Virgin Atlantic, said:
"We were the first commercial airline to test a bio-fuel flight and we continue to lead the airline industry as the pioneer of sustainable aviation. This partnership to produce a next generation, low-carbon aviation fuel is a major step towards radically reducing our carbon footprint, and we are excited about the savings that this technology could help us achieve.”
To watch the full press conference and interview, check out Richard Branson’s blog.
This next generation technology overcomes the complex land use issues associated with some earlier generation biofuels and detailed analysis suggests the fuel will produce around a 50% saving in lifecycle carbon emissions. The Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), the leading international body to ensure the sustainability of biofuels production, will advise the team to ensure the fuel produced meets key environmental, social and economic criteria.
Virgin Atlantic believes that this development will take the airline well beyond its pledge of a 30% carbon reduction per passenger km by 2020. The investment in renewable fuels is part of their wider programme to reduce carbon through measures such as using new, more fuel-efficient aircraft and supporting a global carbon cap and trade scheme, through our involvement in Aviation Global Deal group.