Renewable fuels have had many burgeoning developments this year. Just this month, a sun-powered plane flew through the darkness of night. In March, I discussed the U.S. Air Force testing a biofuel blend on some of its fighter jets.
Then, at the International Aerospace Exhibition in Germany was the world's first plane to take to the air on nothing but algae-based biofuel.
The plane will take flight again at the Farnborough Airshow this week. According to EADS (the maker of the Airbus), the higher energy content of the biofuel allows their Diamond Aircraft DA42 New Generation to use almost a half gallon less fuel per hour than it would on conventional, kerosene-based jet fuel. And the small aircraft does so without extensive engine modifications or sacrificing performance. Compared to Jet-A1 fuel, the exhaust from the algae fuel has 8 times less hydrocarbons as well as reduced nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emissions.
MarketWatch quotes Jean Botti, chief Technology Officer for EADS:
We absolutely need to find a plan B for the replacement of kerosene. What we're doing on biofuels right now is a very promising way of getting to that point. The potential from the use of algae is the highest I have seen so far.
The cost of producing enough algae to use the biofuel on a large scale, however, remains prohibitively high.
Even so, EADS hopes to help develop the industrial infrastructure to support the fuel. They optimistically seek to have a pilot project within five years running planes on 100-percent biofuel, possibly between Toulouse and Paris. By 2030, they aim to have 10 percent of their fleet flying on pure or blended biofuel.
Related on SmartPlanet:
- Fighter jet takes to the sky with biofuel blend
- U.S. Navy F/A 18 super Hornet: first supersonic jet to fly on biofuels
- Honeywell Dutch Air Force achieve first helicopter flight on sustainable biofuels
- Solar plane attempts 24-hour flight