Green news

19 Jan 2009 by Sara Turner

Continental flight powered by algae and succulents

Continental Airlines has completed the first flight to be partly powered by algae. It was also the first commercial flight in North America to use a sustainable biofuel, a blend which contained derivatives of algae and the succulent jatropha plant.

Larry Kellner, chairman and chief executive at Continental Airlines, said: “This demonstration flight represents another step in Continental’s ongoing commitment to fuel efficiency and environmental responsibility. The technical knowledge we gain will contribute to a wider understanding of the future for transportation fuels.”

A blend of 50 per cent renewable biologically-derived fuel and 50 per cent traditional jet fuel was used in one of the two engines, while the other used standard jet fuel.

Both jatropha and algae consume carbon during their lifecycles, which means using the biofuel to power planes could also result in a decrease in carbon emissions. Jatropha plants, which can grow with little water on most soils, produce seeds with around 40 per cent oil content, although they are also highly poisonous.

Jason Pyle of Sapphire Energy CEO, which produces the algae oil used in the fuel, said: “The simple combination of sunlight, CO2 and algae to produce a carbon-neutral, renewable fuel source has the potential to profoundly change the petrochemical landscape forever. This flight puts us one step closer to moving away from fossil fuels and energy dependency, with no impact on the transportation infrastructure, food sources or the environment.”

Jennifer Holmgren, General Manager of fuel producer UOP Renewable Energy, said that production levels of the biofuel blend could reach hundreds of millions of gallons per year by 2012. “Sustainable biofuels for aviation are a real near-term option.”

The biofuel is a “drop-in” fuel, so no modifications to the B737-900 aircraft or engine were necessary for the flight to operate, while it also meets specifications necessary for jet fuel, including a flash point and a freezing point appropriate for use in aircraft.

Visit, and

Scandic reduces carbon footprint with water

Nordic hotel chain Scandic has stopped selling mineral water in its bars and restaurants in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint. Instead, water that has been chilled and filtered on site is now sold in recycled glass bottles.

Helena Nilsson, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications and head of sustainability issues at Scandic  said: “We used to have 3.6 million bottles of water a year transported to our hotels, which generated 160 tonnes of carbon dioxide. It’s fantastic to be able to stop that now and instead focus on a modern alternative that is much more considerate to the environment.”

The bottles have been designed by top swimmer Therese Alshammar, who beat the world record for the 50 metres butterfly in 2008.

For every bottle sold, a contribution goes to the Scandic Sustainability Fund, which rewards organisations or individuals who make an outstanding contribution to a more sustainable world.

Thomas Fankl, Food & Beverage Manager at Scandic said:”The response from guests has been overwhelming. The bottle attracts attention and when people get to know what it means in terms of less environmental impact, a simple and everyday decision like drinking water suddenly takes on a positive glow.”

The water is now available at all Scandic hotels (there are around 150 in total in 10 European countries).

For details of other ways in which Scandic aims to reduce its impact on the environment, go to

JAL to launch carbon offsetting

As of February 3, passengers flying with JAL will be able to offset the C02 generated by their flights.

JAL is working with Recycle One, the Japanese agency of the CarbonNeutral Company, to offer passengers the voluntary carbon offsetting programme via the JAL website. Passengers click on a banner on the homepage, which links to a micro-site provided by Recycle One, where they can calculate the CO2 emissions generated by their journey using the calculator provided.

The amount of CO2 emitted is determined by several factors, including the distance of travel, aircraft type, fuel burn, passenger load factors, and passenger to cargo ratios. The class of travel is also taken into consideration on flights of more than 3,000km.

Passengers can choose the sustainable development project they would like to support, purchasing credits to offset all or part of the CO2 emissions generated by their planned journey. They can select from around 10 projects worldwide which are focused on clean energy technology, primarily wind power related-projects.

In other environmental news from JAL, the airline is set to trial the energy crop Camelina as a biofuel (see green news January 2).

For more information visit

Report by Sara Turner

Loading comments...
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below