Virgin Australia has announced plans to convert eucalyptus trees into "green" jet fuel that will be ready for public trials by 2014, with a demonstration unit ready next year.
The airline is partnering with two energy groups, Australian company, Renewable Oil Corporation, and Canadian-based Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation, via a memorandum of understanding, on the sustainable bio-fuel initiative. Currently, the airline is not providing any funding, instead, it is giving technical advice and "existing resources".
Accounting for approximately two percent of the world's carbon emissions there is growing pressure on airlines to reduce their large carbon footprint and a pledge has been made to reduce emissions by half by 2050. If an airline can do that and develop a sustainable bio-fuel source operating expenses will also reduce significantly when crude oil is no longer necessary. Oil accounts for around a third of operating expenses.
The native tree is seen as a viable crop for biofuel as it flourishes in semi-arid areas that are often unsuitable for most crops. The airline's founder, Richard Branson assured animal lovers that there would still be plenty of eucalyptus left for the koalas.
This is not the airline's first venture into bio-fuels. In 2008, Virgin Atlantic became the first airline to fly with bio-fuel, in that case derived from coconut and palm oils. For an article on Asian airlines green plans click here.
For more about the airline, visit www.vaustralia.com.au