Monday, June 1, 2009

Ways to save oil and pollute less

At the Eco-Aviation Conference in Washington, Air New Zealand’s Chief Pilot Captain David Morgan announced the company’s findings on a test flight from last December. Powered by a combination of biofuel and jet fuel, the test resulted in a fuel savings of 1.2%. It also cut CO2 emissions by over 60%!

While a 1.2% fuel savings doesn’t seem like much, that is over 1 ton of fuel!

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The test was conducted using a commercial 747-400 fitted with Rolls Royce engines. Rolls Royce had certified the fuel — a 50:50 blend of standard Jet A1 fuel and synthetic paraffinic kerosene derived from jatropha oil.

The biofuel was produced from Jatropha seeds grown on “environmentally sustainable farms.” A second generation biofuel, jatropha is grown on land that doesn’t compete with food. It requires almost no care and very little water. Another major benefit of jatropha is that, due to its ability to take hold in harsh wastelands, it can be used to help stop erosion in these areas and reclaim them for agricultural production.

The test was a joint initiative between Air New Zealand, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Honeywell’s UOP. And it has demonstrated that more sustainable air travel can be achieved by refiners, airframe manufacturers, engine makers and airlines working together.

“Certainly the data from our biofuel test flight will be a critical component towards helping biofuel become a certified aviation fuel,” Captain David Morgan said.

The biofuel offers some performance improvements over Jet A1 due to its higher net heat of combustion including:

* The fuel burn for a twelve-hour flight would save 1.43 tons of fuel.
* A savings of approximately 4.5 tons of CO2.
* An estimated 60-65% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.