Virgin Atlantic’s First-of-Its-Kind Flight Uses Fuel from Captured GHGs

by | Oct 2, 2018

LanzaTech’s waste gas to ethanol plant in the Hebei Province of China

Virgin Atlantic, working with LanzaTech and Epic Fuels, launched a commercial flight using a fuel mix made in part from captured greenhouse gas emissions – the first of its kind, the airline says. The fuel was used on a Boeing 747 aircraft for a flight from MCO to London Gatwick on October 2.

LanzaTech’s carbon recycling technology captures carbon-rich industrial waste gases, such as those from steel mills, and recycles them into ethanol, which can be upgraded to alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK) and then blended into jet fuel. Epic Fuels added its experience in fuel blending and aviation fuel expertise.

LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren calls the flight an example of the circular economy in action. “[W]e no longer have to imagine a day when a steel mill can make the steel for the plane and the fuel to power that plane by using its waste gases,” she says.

Epic’s experience working with airlines on sustainable fuel alternatives include flights flown by Alaska Airlines in 2016 using a blend of sustainable fuel produced from non-edible, sustainable corn and renewable sustainable fuel made from residual wood and Singapore Airlines’ first-ever flight powered by a blend of sustainable fuel made from used cooking oil and conventional jet fuel.

Last month, United Airlines announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050 by focusing on several initiatives, including continuing to invest in sustainable aviation biofuels.With an aviation industry-wide goal to cap net greenhouse gas growth from 2020 onward, renewable jet fuel is a key aspect of JetBlue’s emissions reduction strategy, United says.JetBlue, too, announced news last month regarding renewable jet fuel: the airline accepted delivery of its latest A321 aircraft from Airbus in September using 15.5% renewable jet fuel blended with traditional jet fuel. JetBlue will be accepting delivery of four more A321 aircraft that will be using the renewable fuel blend.


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