In the UK, Virgin Atlantic has teamed with LanzaTech to create renewable jet fuel that will power planes Shanghai and Delhi to Heathrow within two to three years. LanzaTech is working on producing its fuel in India and China, making those two destinations easy targets for implementation of the ‘green fleet.’
A flight demo with the new fuel is planned in the next 18 months, and the project will also include Boeing during the trial phases.
Within two to three years Virgin Atlantic plans flights with the new fuel on its routes from Shanghai and Delhi to London Heathrow as LanzaTech and partners develop facilities in China and India. The technology is currently being piloted in New Zealand, a larger demonstration facility will be commissioned in Shanghai this year, and the first commercial operation will be in place in China by 2014. Following successful implementation, a wider roll-out could include operations in the UK and the rest of the world.
LanzaTech estimates that its process can apply to 65 % of the world’s steel mills, allowing the fuel to be rolled out for worldwide commercial use. The energy company believes that this process can also apply to metals processing and chemical industries, growing its potential considerably further.
Virgin Atlantic will be the first airline to use this fuel and will work with LanzaTech, Boeing and Swedish Biofuels towards achieving the technical approval required for using new fuel types in commercial aircraft. A ‘demo’ flight with the new fuel is planned in 12-18 months.
The next generation technology overcomes the complex land use issues associated with some earlier generation biofuels – and detailed analysis suggests the fuel will produce around a 50% saving in lifecycle carbon emissions. The Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), the leading international body to ensure the sustainability of biofuels production, will advise the team to ensure the fuel produced meets key environmental, social and economic criteria.
Virgin Atlantic believes that this development will take the airline well beyond its pledge of a 30% carbon reduction per passenger km by 2020. The investment in renewable fuels is part of our wider programme to reduce carbon through measures such as using new, more fuel-efficient aircraft and supporting a global carbon cap and trade scheme, through our involvement in Aviation Global Deal group.