One engine of a Boeing 747-400 airplane was powered by a 50-50 blend of oil from jatropha plants and standard A1 jet fuel. Biofuels were once regarded as impractical for aviation because most freeze at the low temperatures encountered at cruising altitudes. But tests show jatropha, whose seeds yield an oil already used to produce fuels like biodiesel, has an even lower freezing point than jet fuel. The flight was the first to use jatropha as part of a biofuel mix.
In February, Boeing and Virgin Atlantic carried out a similar test flight that included a biofuel mixture of palm and coconut oil - but was dismissed as a publicity stunt by environmentalists who said the fuel could not be produced in the quantities needed for commercial aviation use. Biofuels emit as much carbon as kerosene-based jet fuel, but jatropha - a Mexican plant that grows in warm climates - absorbs about half the carbon that jatropha-based fuels release. Air New Zealand's proposed blend, for example, would mean a one-quarter reduction in the carbon footprint of standard jet fuel. While the link between biofuels and grain prices is debatable, Mills said that jatropha plants would not compete with food or other commercial crops since it can grow on land that would make poor farmland and needs little water.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I posted an entry on 8/11/08 about a plant called JATROPHA that could be the future of getting the US (globe?) away from oil dependency and shows promise as a viable fuel alternative. Since it's still being researched (and almost too good to be true), there isn't much written about it in the news. So, when I saw an article about a Boeing 747 running on "jet fuel" made from jatropha, I was stoked. Click on the link above to see the article. Below are the highlights: