Virgin Atlantic to Use First-Generation Feedstock Instead of an Algae-Based Biofuel for Boeing 747 Test Flight
It was first reported in January that Virgin Atlantic would test flight a Boeing 747 jetliner using a biofuel, without naming the fuel. An algae-derived biofuel was, however, mentioned as a strong possibility for the flight between London Heathrow airport and Amsterdam. The plane will carry a limited flight crew and no passengers.
Next, an official of the UK Department of Transport claimed in a document leaked to Flight International that a 20% mixture of algae biofuel and regular jet fuel will be used in one engine for the test.
The latest comes from a Boeing official who said, in an interveiw with Flight at the Singapore air show, the Virgin Flight will definitely not use algae-derived biofuel in the test. Instead, a first-generation feedstock, such as soy, canola, babassu or palm oil will be the source of the biofuel.
The use of a hydrogenated fuel would, as one expert put it, “be a good demonstration of proof of concept.” He did say, however, that algae will be considered as a fuel source in the future.
Well, whatever they use, it’ll be a first for the commercial aviation industry. An Airbus 380 flew with a gas-to-liquid biofuel a few weeks ago, proving that a biofuel was an option, but in their case it was a fuel derived from fossil deposits.
The test is slated for the end of February, so we’ll know soon what fuel was used in the flight.
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