Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to develop a low carbon aviation fuel “with just half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative”, and hopes to use the fuel for flights from China and India to London within two to three years.
The carrier is partnering with clean energy technology company LanzaTech in a project which it says will see “waste gases from industrial steel production being captured, fermented and chemically converted using Swedish Biofuels technology for use as a jet fuel”.
Virgin plans to demo the biofuel in 12-18 months, before using it on commercial routes from Shanghai and Delhi (as LanzaTech develops facilities in China and India) to London within two to three years.
Speaking at the announcement of the new partnership, Sir Richard Branson said that the new technology is “scalable, sustainable and can be commercially produced at a cost comparable to conventional jet fuel”.
Virgin said that the new generation technology “overcomes the complex land use issues associated with some earlier generation biofuels”, and added that it believes the development “will take the airline well beyond its pledge of a 30 per cent carbon reduction per passenger km by 2020”.
For a report on how airlines are attempting to reduce their environmental impact, see The race to go green in the February 2011 issue of Business Traveller.