Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Biofuels for airliners

Boeing is working on "green" fuels including fuel from algae. A spokesman thinks we are within 5 years, using the same engines now in use, for a fuel blend that is 20 to 40 per cent "green." That's a very short time frame for such a breakthrough. Times of the UK:
Boeing has teamed up with BP and Royal Dutch Shell to help launch the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative to explore the viability of alternative fuels. The first study is exploring issues such as feasibility, costs, barriers and technical issues.... Of the current options, synthetic liquid fuels manufactured from coal, biomass or natural gas are viable. Bio jet fuel - jet fuel made from agricultural oil crops - is deemed a mid-term option but is handicapped by limited production capacity. Earlier this year another Boeing executive, Dave Nielson, told the Transportation Research Board that if the US used biofuel for 15 per cent of its average fuel requirements, it would require cultivation of an area the size of Florida, or about 10 per cent of America's total cropland. Similar analysis showed that if airlines used 100 per cent of bio jet fuel from algae, it would require cultivation of an area the size of Maryland. According to Glover, one of the main questions is "can we find plant sources that don't compete with food sources". One project is testing the viability of bio jet fuel from the Babassu tree in Brazil.

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