Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Go, Air New Zealand, go!

Air New Zealand made a successful two hour test flight yesterday with a Boeing 747 powered by a jatropha, a very hardy plant native to warm dry climes. This groundbreaking test was important for several reasons. Previous tests of airplane powering biofuel had been dismissed as publicity stunts because engines were fueled by products that could not be mass produced for the commercial aviation market. Other biofuels also carried the disadvantage of not being significantly more environmentally clean than conventional kerosene based jet fuels. The jatropha blend, on the other hand, produces 25% less of a carbon footprint than standard jet fuel according to Air New Zealand. Even better unlike many alternative fuels, jatropha is not a dietary staple, and therefore would not have the negative knock-on effects of fuels like ethanol, which has contributed to rising food prices across the globe.

Go, Air New Zealand, go, a bio fuel that is environmentally sound, not a food and can be mass produced, we love it. Air New Zealand hopes that by 2013, 10 percent of its flights will be powered, at least in part, by biofuels. The experimental flight was a joint venture by Air New Zealand, Boeing, engine maker Rolls Royce (yes, that Rolls Royce, formerly,) and biofuel specialist, UOP, a unit of Honeywell International. Read more here.

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