UK-NY in one hour in algae-powered rocket plane: Paris Air Show

June 21, 2011 |

Rendering of ZEHST algae-powered plane that will achieve speeds of greater than Mach 4

Paris when it Sizzles: EADS announces algae-powered, Mach 4-hurtling ZEHST rocket plane at Paris Air Show; nine airlines sign garbage-to-biofuels fuel deals with Solena

Airbus parent company EADS announced its “Zero Emission Hypersonic Transportation” (ZEHST) rocket plane it hopes will be able to fly from Melbourne to London in under 3.5 hours, or London – New York in one hour, by 2050.

Algae-powered rocket plane

The 100-passenger aircraft will use a dual-propulsion system. Conventional engines will utilize algae-base biofuels for take-off and landing. Ramjet rocket engines, powered by biofuels-based hydrogen and oxygen with water vapor exhaust, will take the plane to a 20 miles cruising altitude and a speed of 3125 miles per hour, or above Mach 4. Today’s aircraft, by contrast have a typical  cruising altitude of 7 miles and a sub-sonic speed below Mach 1.

Here’s a brochure for the ZEHST (click to expand):

The company said it will have a prototype rocket plane completed by 2020,and hopes to be in regular passenger service by 2050. The company put a four-meter model of the rocket plane on display at the Air Show.

Nine airlines sign biofuels deals with Solena

Alternative aviation fuels display at the Paris Air Show at Le BourgetIn other news at Paris, nine airlines announced letters of intent with Solena Fuels for a future supply of jet fuel derived exclusively from biomass to be produced in northern California.

Solena’s “GreenSky California” biomass-to-liquids (BTL) facility in Northern California (Santa Clara County) will utilize post-recycled urban and agricultural wastes to produce up to 16 million gallons of neat jet fuel (as well as 14 million gallon equivalents of other energy products) per year by 2015 to support airline operations at Oakland (OAK), San Francisco (SFO) and/or San Jose (SJC). The project will divert approximately 550,000 metric tons of waste that otherwise would go to a landfill while producing jet fuel with lower emissions of greenhouse gases and local pollutants than petroleum-based fuels.

American Airlines, United Continental, Alaska Airlines, FedEx, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, US Airways, Air Canada, Frontier Airlines and Lufthansa German Airlines signed the LOIs with Solena.

Letter from the Paris Air Show: Sapphire Energy’s Tim Zenk

Sapphire Energy's Tim Zenk showcases algal aviation biofuels at the Paris Air Show

From Paris, Tim Zenk of Sapphire Energy writes: “Every other year, Paris becomes the center of the universe for everything aviation.  In years past, the leading innovators in military and civilian aviation technology have wowed hundreds of thousands of global attendees with the latest flying machines.  This year, however, the world’s major players in airpower have a new focus:  sustainable, biomass-based renewable jet fuels.

“The Boeing Company ignited the buzz by landing at the show in its latest 747 cargo, having made the intercontinental flight from Seattle to Paris on a blend of 15% camelina-based fuel. Honeywell UOP, flew their Gulfstream G450 transatlantic flight powered by biofuel with a 50/50 blend of camelina-based and petroleum-based jet fuel.

“Here in Paris, the world’s leading aviation companies are putting their weight behind renewable, biomass-based jet fuels, and U.S. companies are proving their leadership in this field.  With the addition of these test flights to an impressive roster of previously conducted commercial demonstrations of drop-in-jet fuels in the U.S.

“The Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), lead by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable engineer, Rich Altman, and his exceptional colleagues at the Air Transport Association, have attracted the collective attention of the international aviation community by exhibiting 17 of the world’s leading renewable fuels companies

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