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.
Chevron Backs Solazyme’s Algae Biodiesel Production Process (+Video)