Algae Biofuel the Next Green Step in Aviation?

Eco-Travel, Travel News — By Carlo Alcos on June 15, 2010 at 7:30 am

I was at a store the other day in Manhattan and saw a clock that ran on water. Reading the back, I learned that a mechanism extracted the ions from the water and somehow converted it to electricity that ran the clock. Pretty cool.

There are lots of cool sustainable and earth-friendly things popping up all the time. An article at Wired talks about an airplane that is powered by algae. EADS — the parent company of Airbus — has just completed demoing flights of an aircraft that runs on biofuel derived from algae. The fuel, according to EADS, is not only renewable, but also reduces fuel burn and pollutants.

They used a twin-engine Diamond DA42NG to demo at the Berlin Air Show, which took place from June 8 to 13. EADS CTO, John Botti, said in an article at Air Transport World:

Our pure biofuel flight from algae is a world first and an exciting milestone in our research at EADS. This opens up the feasibility of carbon-neutral flights.

Furthermore, the article states that the “fuel contained eight times less hydrocarbons than kerosene derived from crude oil and can reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 40%.” This Kathryn Report post contains a video with Johannes Stuhlberger, the Vice President of EADS. In it he says that a main benefit of algae is that it has higher energy content — by 5 to 10 percent — and that it can be produced almost anywhere with little complication.

As for the cost? Not quite ready for the consumer market. Stuhlberger says,

I cannot tell you how much a liter of algae fuel will ultimately cost but it is incredibly more expensive. Unfortunately, we have not yet reached a level where we can produce it in large quantities and sell it.

According to him, it will take another five to ten years for an aircraft to run on algae biofuel. There was one slight anomaly in the reports. The Air Transport World article stated that “relatively minor” modifications and adjustments were made to the aircraft, while the Kathryn Report post stated that EADS engineers said no changes were required for the plane to run on the biofuel.

[Image: Mark Sadowski / Flickr]

Tags: airplane, algae, biofuel, EADS, environment


  • cofactor says:

    This is the first time a plane flew on 100% Algae Fuel – lets hope the Fuel gets cheaper soon so we all can profit on renewable kerosene.
    Kerosene will be the last fuel to be substitutet by other technologies (electricity, hydrogen) so creating renewable” drop-in fuels” is the only way to get our travel greener…

  • Flightless Travel says:

    I would dearly love for this to be the answer to all our problems, but how much land will be required to grow the algae to fly all the planes in the sky right now?


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