Virgin flies the bio-diesel skies

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Virgin Atlantic has made a first step in replacing aviation gas with renewable fuel. On February 24th, 2008, the first commercial flight took to the air using a partial mix of plant oils for fuel. This could be a milestone in the use of renewable aviation fuels. The blend they burned was far from pure biodiesel – in fact, it only contained 20% of what Virgin is calling “first generation biofuel” – it’s…

derived from coconuts grown in the Philippines and babassu palm oil. Babassu palms grow wild in Brazil, so this type of palm oil is seen as eco-friendlier than most.

Hopefully, future flights will use greater concentrations of biofuel and create a viable alternative to kerosene. In the long run, Richard Branson (Virgin’s CEO) hopes to develop “second generation” biofuel sources. These may include cellulosic ethanol and even diesel made from pond scum.

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