Virgin announce low carbon fuel development
October 11th, 2011 by elisa

Whether for promotion or a genuine interest in cutting carbon emissions, airlines are starting to pull their finger out with technology relating to greener fuel sources. Last week saw the first passenger flight using a mix of normal and biofuel and this week sees the announcement by Virgin Atlantic to develop a new low carbon aviation fuel with half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative.

The airline is developing the fuel with LanzaTech. The fuel will use waste gases from industrial steel production which will be captured, fermented and chemically converted using Swedish Biofuels technology for use as a jet fuel.

“The revolutionary fuel production process recycles waste gases that would otherwise be burnt into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide,” said Virgin.

LanzaTech estimates that its process can apply to 65% of the world’s steel mills, and could be extended to processing and chemical industries, which is a brilliant commercial prospect.

It will take 12-18 months of development before the first trial flight, then the airline plans to use the fuel on flights from Shanghai and Delhi to London Heathrow within three years.

Virgin president Sir Richard Branson, said: “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.

“With oil running out, it is important that new fuel solutions are sustainable, and with the steel industry alone able to deliver over 15 billion gallons of jet fuel annually, the potential is very exciting.

“This new technology is scalable, sustainable and can be commercially produced at a cost comparable to conventional jet fuel.”

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