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Virgin Atlantic 747 on Biofuel

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Richard Branson Biography (Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson) :
British Entrepreneur
Famous for : Founding the famous Virgin brand, attracting media attention with his marketing tactics, and for his balloon adventures.
Branson details : Born - July 18, 1950 Britain / Lives - United Kingdom

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Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Biofuel Flight

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Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic has flown a 747 jumbo jet from London's Heathrow airport to Amsterdam using a small percentage of biofuels to power the Boeing plane. The Boeing 747 had three of its four fuel tanks filled with normal jet fuel, while the fourth tank was filled with 80% jet fuel and 20% coconut and babassu palm oil. So the flight was far from being an environmentally friendly experience, but it was the first flight of its kind by a commercial airline.

Sir Richard Branson commented on the historic flight by saying that "This breakthrough will help Virgin Atlantic to fly its planes using clean fuel sooner than expected." He also said that the demonstration flight "will give us crucial knowledge that we can use to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. Virgin Group pledged to invest all its profits from its transportation companies towards developing clean energy and with this breakthrough we are well down the path to achieving our goals."

The biofuel Virgin Atlantic flight was criticized by some as simply a media stunt by a savvy marketing man, but Branson countered that the flight will "enable those of us who are serious about reducing our carbon emissions to go on developing the fuels of the future, fuels which will power our aircraft in the years ahead through sustainable next-generation oils, such as algae."

Biofuels are currently produced from grains, sugar and vegetable oils which means that the biofuel industry will have to compete with food crops. The extra land needed to replace fossil fuels with current generation biofuels would be vast, with deforestation and competition for food making the changeover pointless. But with new generation biofuels there may be more viable solutions used like algae, which can be grown in water and won't compete with food or require land to be deforested.

Branson told reporters at a press conference for the occasion that "Today marks a biofuel breakthrough for the whole airline industry. Virgin Atlantic, and its partners, are proving that you can find an alternative to traditional jet fuel and fly a plane on new technology, such as sustainable biofuel."

February 25, 2008

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