Could Beavers run on Bio-diesel, or better yet straight GREASE? No, or at least probably not yet. Given that legendary DeHavilland Beaver that we all know and love (or hate/fear) uses a gasoline powered internal combustion engine the asnwer to the headline is no, but I couldn’t resist writing it anyway. But with any luck, maybe, just maybe, in the future we could all be riding high in a greasy beaver… here’s how.
The reality is that bio-fuels can be blended with jet fuel because it so similar in properties to diesel. And yesterday the proof of concept flight took place, (info courtesy of our friends at inhabitat.com)
Yesterday, American Airlines completed the world’s first commercial biofuel flight, from Houston to Chicago, with 40% Solazyme algae biofuels and 60% traditional jet fuels. Tomorrow, Alaska Airlines will attempt a similar feat, flying 75 planes with a 20% cooking oil biofuel blend. Quite a achievement, but more surprisingly the sustainable flight attempts have become something of an industry scandal, with insiders claiming that American Airlines heard of Alaska’s plans and rushed to beat them in becoming the first airline to go green with biofuels. So what is the real impact of these flights?
Th wikipedia jet fuel article says that perhaps biofuel combustion engines are not that far off, observe.
The air transport industry is responsible for 2 percent of man-made carbon dioxide emitted .Boeing estimates that biofuels could reduce flight-related greenhouse-gas emissions by 60 to 80 percent. One possible solution which has received more media coverage than others would be blending synthetic fuel derived from algae with existing jet fuel:
Green Flight International became the first airline to fly jet aircraft on 100% biofuel. The flight from Stead airport in Stead, Nevada was in an Aero L-29 Delfín piloted by Carol Sugars and Douglas Rodante.
- Boeing and Air New Zealand are collaborating with Tecbio Aquaflow Bionomic and other jet biofuel developers around the world.
- Virgin Atlantic successfully tested a biofuel blend consisting of 20% babassu nuts and coconut and 80% conventional jet fuel, which was fed to a single engine on a 747 flight from London to Amsterdam.
- A consortium consisting of Boeing, NASA’s Glenn Research Center, MTU Aero Engines (Germany), and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is working on development of jet fuel blends containing a substantial percentage of biofuel.
Oil prices increased about fivefold from 2003 to 2008, raising fears that world petroleum production is becoming unable to keep up with demand. The fact that there are few alternatives to petroleum for aviation fuel adds urgency to the search for alternatives. Twenty-five airlines were bankrupted or stopped operations in the first six months of 2008, largely due to fuel costs.
Who knows next time you lift off for that trip to the Alaskan bush, you could be riding in style courtesy of last night’s deep fried pickles. And leaving a smaller carbon footprint to boot. I love the smell of progress in the morning!