Tuesday, November 8, 2011

First U.S. Passenger Flight Powered by Biofuel

Chicago Tribune: A Continental Airlines plane burning jet fuel derived partially from algae landed at O'Hare International Airport Monday afternoon, marking the first U.S. commercial flight powered by biofuels.

The Boeing 737-800, carrying 154 passengers, flew from Houston's Bush International Airport using a blend of 60 percent traditional petroleum-based jet fuel and 40 percent aviation biofuel made from algal oil, officials said.

The "green jet fuel'' was provided by Solazyme and produced using a process developed by Honeywell UOP.

The technology converts inedible natural oils and wastes into a more environmentally friendly jet fuel that offers as much as an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based jet fuel, officials said.

"Sustainable biofuels produced on a large scale at an economically viable price can one day play a meaningful role in powering everyone's trip on an airline,'' said Pete McDonald, United Airlines' executive vice president and chief operations officer.

Continental is a subsidiary of United Continental Holdings.

United announced Monday that it signed a letter of intent with San Francisco-based Solazyme to negotiate the purchase of 20 million gallons of algae-derived biofuel annually. Delivery would start as early as 2014, officials said.

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