EADS, the European aerospace company, plans to fly a plane powered by a biofuel made entirely from algae at the ILA Berlin Airshow this week, the world’s first such aircraft, according to an AFP report.
The article quoted a company technical director who said that 10 percent of the EADS fleet could be powered by biofuels as early as 2040.
In addition to conventional airplane fuel, EADS has also begun research into using algae for jet fuel. EADS is the parent company of Airbus. The company is also showcasing a hybrid helicopter that will run on both electric power and diesel fuel.
One advantage of the algae-based fuel over conventional aviation fuel, according to a report on Inhabitat, is energy density. The plane uses 1.5 liters less fuel per hour when consuming biofuel, or a 5 – 10 percent saving in energy, according to Aviation Week. Unlike traditional kerosene, the biofuel emits 40 percent less nitrogen oxide and 98 percent less sulfur dioxide, according to Flightglobal.
The plane, a twin engine Diamond DA42, has been flying for several weeks with one engine fueled by the biofuel and the other loaded with traditional kerosene fuel. EADS hopes to expand tests of the biofuel with the cooperation of Boeing.
Meanwhile, Environmental Leader has reported that Boeing, Virgin, Continental and General Electric have all been working on aviation biofuel initiatives. Virgin has flown several test flights using aviation biofuel. United Airlines has also recently conducted test flights using a natural gas based synthetic fuel.