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
February 25, 2008
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