Hats off to Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Atlantic Airways for conducting the first test flight of a biofueled commercial jet aircraft. The plane, a Boeing 747-400, was flown with fuel tanks loaded with both kerosene (jet fuel) and a biofuel made of a mix of babassu oil and coconut oil.
The engines were GE CF6 gas turbines. According to GE, only one engine ran on the biofuel during the test flight. The flight was a brief trip from London Heathrow to Amsterdam.
Critics have jumped on the effort for being unsustainable. To power the Virgin fleet would take half of the UK’s farmland one said.
But they miss the point. Sir Richard never claimed this was intended to be a production and operational solution. He wanted first to see if it would work (some said the biofuel would not flow at extreme low temps [biodiesel has issues there]).
Next he wanted to measure the benefits, if any, of biofuel with respect to CO2 emissions and other air pollution.
Finally, Sir Richard, being the master of PR, wanted to draw attention to the effort and make people think about the issues and perhaps invent other solutions.
Hats off to you Sir Richard from CleanEnergyFacts.com