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Biofuel takes flight: Virgin Atlantic 747 aircraft partly powered by recycled fuel

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THE first commercial flight powered partly by a new form of biofuel converted from alcohol has been completed.


Virgin Atlantic's Boeing 747 aircraft landed at London Gatwick with a fuel blend containing 5.0 per cent biofuel made from industrial waste gases converted into ethanol.


Sir Richard Branson, the airline's founder, guided the aircraft towards a stand after it touched down on Wednesday.


The billionaire told reporters it was “a historic day”.


“The fuel is cleaner than normal jet aviation fuel,” he said.


“From the globe's point of view, if all fuel could be recycled fuel it would make a massive difference from a climate change point of view.”


The biofuel, produced by start-up firm LanzaTech, is certified to make up as much as 50 per cent of a plane's total fuel supply.


The “sustainable” fuel delivers a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of “at least 65 per cent” compared with conventional petroleum fuel, according to LanzaTech.


Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger urged the Government to take the “critical next steps” of approving a change in legislation to allow such companies using carbon capture technology to be eligible for financial incentives, and to support investment in the first plants to produce the fuel.


LanzaTech is aiming to open three UK plants by 2025, producing enough fuel to fly all Virgin Atlantic's UK outbound flights in a 50/50 mix.


LanzaTech chief executive Jennifer Holmgren said: “We have shown that recycling waste carbon emissions into jet fuel is not impossible, that waste carbon needs to be thought as an opportunity not a liability, that carbon can be reused over and over again.”



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I'm confused. Does this mean that carbon is captured from some polluting industry (no doubt using an unknown amount of energy in the process), somehow combined with ethanol in a mix that a jet engine can function with, then burnt in the jet engines where it is released high in the atmosphere? How can that be good?



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I have visited a biogas facility run on pig excrement. It should be possible to fill the hold with pigs and direct the gas straight to the turbines. Then pigs might fly.



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