Two commercial airlines are taking biofuels to the skies, and with a bit of competition in the air, biofuels for aviation are becoming a reality.
Just this morning, United Airlines launched the first commercial US flight operated by biofuels. Powered by Solazyme Solajet fuel, flight 1403 (a Boeing 737-800 Eco Skies aircraft) departed from Bush International Airport in Texas en route to Chicago O’ Hare International Airport in Illinois. The Solajet fuel used was a blend of 60% biofuels and 40% conventional petroleum-derived jetfuels.
Meanwhile, in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska Airlines plans to launch its first regularly-scheduled route powered by biofuels this Wednesday, November 9. The carrier’s passenger flights from Seattle-to-Washtington, D.C. and Seattle-to-Portland will both be regularly fueled by a 20% used cooking oil-based biofuel blend from Dynamic Fuels. In total, Alaska (and its sister airline Horizon) will operate 75 biofueled flights over the next few weeks.
“This is a historic week for U.S. aviation. The 75 flights that Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will fly over the next few weeks reflect our longstanding commitment to environmental responsibility and our belief that sustainable biofuels are key to aviation’s future,” Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Bill Ayer was reported as saying in an article from Biofuels Digest. “What we need is an adequate, affordable and sustainable supply. To the biofuels industry, we say: If you build it, we will buy it.”
To learn more about the future of biofuels in commercial aviation, read the full article at Biofuels Digest online.
We’ve been hearing it for decades: the next breakthrough fuel technology is just around the corner. Hydrogen, electric, fuel cells–all have shown promise to free the world from its dependence on fossil fuels. Yet for one reason or another, we wait and wait for the automakers to catch up or the technology to perfected. Meanwhile, in a relatively short-span, researchers have developed a method of extracting oil from algae and converting it to a viable fuel source. What makes algal biodiesel different from the aforementioned panaceas? Consumers will not need to wait on Detroit to take advantage of it as the current and future fleet of diesel vehicles will be able to use it with no conversion required. More importantly, algae is a rapidly renewable biodiesel feedstock that does not compete with food sources like soy beans or corn. Leading the way is Solazyme, a bioenergy upstart out of San Francisco, in a unique partnership with Chevron. Unique because instead of eschewing the help of big oil, Solazyme founders Jonathan Wilson and Harrison Dillon embraced Chevron’s R&D muscle as way to accelerate algal-biodiesel’s path to widespread commercial use. For more information check out this post from Wired magazine, and be sure to watch the trailer to “Fields of Gold,” the biodiesel documentary produced by biodiesel advocate Josh Tickell.
Posted in Biodiesel
Tagged algae, Biodiesel, biofuel, BMW, carbon, Chevron, diesel, ethanol, fuel cell, global warming, hybrid, hydrogen, imperium, Mercedes, propel, Solazyme, VW