Airplanes to Use Biofuel?

It's no surprise that air travel contributes to global warming (currently about 3 percent of US total emissions), but scientists predict that these levels could triple by 2050. This statistic has prompted aircraft manufacturers and airlines like Boeing, Virgin, New Zealand Air, Japan Airlines and GE Aircrafts to test new aviation biofuels.

Initial flight tests over the last year and a half indicate that the four tests using a mixture of regular jet fuel and biofuel yielded impressive results. "It meets all jet fuel requirements and then some," said Billy Glover, Boeing's environmental strategy group leader.

The fuels tested included blends of babassu, sustainably grown coconut oil, jatropha, algae and camelina. Of all the biofuels tested the camelina held the most promise, with the potential for being approved for use next year. In addition, Glover said, the test show a camelina blend of aviation fuel can reduce CO2 emissions by more than 80 percent – more than any other bio-feed stock.

The only barrier, as with most biofuels, noted Glover, is how fast and how efficiently farmers can grown the crops.

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