By Mark Halper
Posting in Energy
Now Boeing takes a turn at claiming it will be the first at crossing the Atlantic non-stop in a biofuel-powered jet. The real winner? Read on...
If only this week’s lunar eclipse could have waited until the weekend. Then we might have discovered what effect plant-based fuel vapor would have on the moon’s appearance when the earth blocks the sun.
That’s because the trans-Atlantic skies will be relatively full of biofuel-powered jet planes starting on Friday. Okay, the airways will have two such craft. But that’s two more than have crossed the ocean non-stop in all of history.
It also doubles the number – one - that excited plenty of aviation enthusiasts earlier this week, when SmartPlanet broke the news that Honeywell is scheduled to fly the first ever non-stop trans-Atlantic biofuel flight this Friday.
Pilot Ron Weight is ferrying two of the company’s executives from Morristown, N.J. to the Paris Air Show via a Gulfstream G450, powered by plant-based jet fuel made by Honeywell’s petrochemical division, Honeywell UOP.
Today, Boeing got in on the buzz. It issued a press release claiming that it will fly the “first transatlantic flight of a biofuel-powered commercial airplane” this Sunday. Three pilots – Keith Otsuka (pictured), Rick Braun and Sten Rossby will land in Paris on Monday.
Hmmm, Sunday. That’s two days after Honeywell’s Friday flight. So how could Boeing be first? The key, of course, is in the words “commercial airplane.” Boeing is flying a 747-8 cargo plane, bigger than the corporate jet that Honeywell is flying. The 747 is taking off from Everett, Washington, a continent further from Paris than Honeywell’s New Jersey flight.
Okay so Boeing’s is bigger and longer. But Honeywell’s is first. And Honeywell is using a 50/50 blend of biofuel and conventional jet fuel, whereas Boeing is settling for a 15% biofuel mix.
Both flights should further prove that jet biofuels are technically up to the task of getting modern planes from here to Timbuktu. Biofuel adoption would potentially slash the CO2 emissions of the airline industry, which uses petroleum-based jet fuel.
ASTM, a key standards body, looks ready to give final approval to jet biofuels as early as July 1. Then commercial flights can start. Lufthansa is already readying its Hamburg-to-Frankfurt route.
If only prices would tumble and biofuel makers could truly avoid competing against food, water and land that sustains populations.
Oh, the clear winner in this weekend’s leapfrog across the Atlantic? It’s Honeywell UOP. Both flights will use its Green Jet Fuel, based on camelina, an inedible plant.
Jun 16, 2011
I once heard that they are using land for growing cotton, instead of using that land to grow food! To make it worse, I heard that a farm in Iowa was turned into a subdivision! So to be clear - ALL land must be used for food production. Any "plants" grown must be eaten and not turned into textiles or other goods. And all plants that can't be eaten directly must be fed to animals, so we can then eat them. Where are the protests against cotton, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar? Sorry folks, it's not as simple as it seems. You're not going to learn enough to make an educated decision from sound bites, short articles, and mainstream media. You need to seek out documentaries, websites, and environmental non-profit opinions. "Corn" used for high fructose corn syrup is not food. Sugar is not food. F'ing coffee is not food. But that doesn't mean all those things don't have a place in our world. There is no right or wrong policy - it's a very difficult and complex topic, and we must strive to find a balance between displacing petrochemicals with something else. If done carefully, biofuels can be a part of the mix. The key is to develop internationally recognized standards for sustainability, continue to refine them, and slowly phase out the obvious offenders (palm from recently deforested Amazon, etc.).
My only caveat about whose first might be that Honeywell is running only one of its engines on biofuel.
So they will drive the prices up on soybeans and other crops like it. Then the food for fuel blight will expand and drive up the prices of more food items. Where is the sense in that?
Of course the fuel they're using in these jets has nothing to do with ethanol. It is derived from oil seed crops of some sort. Jet fuel is akin to kerosene or diesel, not gasoline.
That is on top of the nearly 1 million acres of lost production since 2007. We have gone from just over 93 million acres of corn planted in 2007 to around 91 million this year. The percentage of the US corn crop going to ethanol is expected to exceed 50% in 2011. It was around 3% in 2006. Most of that was waste corn that would have been disposed of as unfit for normal uses.
With half a million acres out of production this year due to river flooding in the US, the prices this year will only increase.
40% of the US corn crop went in to ethanol in 2010 while corn prices doubled. Globally food prices have gone up more than 70% since bio-fuel mandates were put in place in many countries. The UN points the finger for higher food prices directly at bio-fuel programs. Why in the world would we want to use more bio-fuel? Are you trying to starve the world to drastically reduce global population as many fringe elements here want to do?
Of course, before the advent of fossil fuel use it was pretty much all biofuel, But I was under the impression that more than biofuel WW II Germany was mostly using coal as the basis for alternative fuels. I could be wrong.
"Oh, the clear winner in this weekend???s leapfrog across the Atlantic? It???s Honeywell UOP. Both flights will use its Green Jet Fuel, based on camelina, an inedible plant."
The World Bank released a report stating that the rise in fossil fuel prices is the largest factor in higher food costs. Clearly, if more people want to buy soybean oil for whatever use, the price goes up, then people will raise supply to meet the demand. Since it takes land to grow the crops, that will have an effect on land use. If a farmer decides to cut down a forest to grow more crops for biofuels, that would be directly land use change. If farmers in Brazil cut down rain forest to grow more soybean to sell for animal feed because more people are eating meat because their income has gone up due to their region's booming biofuel business, that would be indirect land use change (ILUC). That being said, if a new oil field is discovered, wealth in the region goes, up, causing the same cycle. Because this is such a complex topic, there is no obvious path. There is nothing clearly "stupid" or "idiotic" or even "common sense". It takes serious scientists working with government and industry to chart a path.
Coal gas was a large contributor to their war effort. The problem with coal gas, as pointed out in another blog on here about the US military keeping it as an option, it is very polluting. The Germans did not care about the environment, but the stuff was brutal on engines. They did a lot of work late in the war on biofuels to mix with the coal gas to reduce the carbon fouling of the engines. By that point they had lost the fertile fields of southern France and the effort was pointless.
It is also a food stock for chickens and cattle. It has been growing in use by those industries as the cost of corn has gone up. It is also valued as feed because it tends to raise the level of Omega 3 oils in the meats produced. So again we have bio-fuel competing with food production. You should also know that Congressional reps from Montana are behind the push for Camelina being used in both the food and bio-fuel industries to make it a cash crop for the state. PS. When can I collect on lunch?