The US plane-maker Boeing and the airline Virgin Atlantic have announced an environmental partnership including a joint biofuel demonstration aimed at developing sustainable fuel sources suitable for commercial jet engines and the aviation industry. The demonstration, scheduled for 2008 using a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400, is being worked jointly with GE Aviation and Virgin Fuels.
In an interview with EurActiv, Billy Glover as managing director for environmental strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes explained details about the plans to fly aircrafts on a 50% biofuels blend.
He confirmed that Boeing was in the testing phase right now, sorting through dozens of samples of different types of fuels. Glover added: “Normally, due to the chemical composition these types of fuels freeze more easily than crude oil processed fuel. So we have to do some extra processing. We are looking at different blends of biofuels with more conventional sources of fuel. […] We are aiming to achieve properties that look like, act like, and perform like today’s fuel, and therefore can be used in today’s planes.”
Glover stressed that the plan was to design a fuel which could be used in all airplanes flying today without modification. No major changes of distribution networks or storage networks would be necessary. However, he expected it to take time for the processing capacity and the availability at airports to rise.
The boeing representative hoped that the biofuel content of the fuel would be close to 50% but also said: “If it doesn’t have the properties that we need, then we’ll try a 40% blend, and then we’ll try a 30% blend.”
The complete interview can be read here at Euractiv.com.
The Boeing press release announcing an environmental partnership with Virgin Atlantic is available for Download here (PDF document).