A Qatar Airways aircraft has completed a
commercial passenger flight powered by a fuel made from natural
gas. The journey from London Gatwick to Doha took over
six hours and was operated with an Airbus A340- 600 aircraft using
Rolls-Royce Trent 556 engines.
Shell developed and produced the 50-50 blend of
synthetic Gas to Liquids (GTL) kerosene and conventional oil-based
kerosene fuel. The State of Qatar is set to become one of the world’s
leading producers of GTL kerosene when it is put into commercial production from 2012.
The fuel, as an alternative to
conventional oil-based kerosene, will contribute to
diversification of aviation fuel supply. It also burns with lower
sulphur dioxide and particulate emissions than pure conventional
oil-based kerosene, making it attractive for improving local air
quality at busy airports.
The blend of conventional kerosene
and GTL kerosene will be known as GTL Jet Fuel. The flight was the
latest step in over two years of scientific work carried out by a
consortium consisting of Airbus, Qatar Airways, Qatar Petroleum,
Qatar Science & Technology Park, Rolls-Royce, Shell and WOQOD into
the benefits of using GTL Jet Fuel to power commercial aircraft.
“Qatar’s position as the GTL capital
of the world has been further enhanced with today’s achievement.
GTL technology enables us to produce liquid fuels and other
products from natural gas. Commercial aviation is one of the
exciting new markets that this opens up, helping us maximise the
value from our natural resources,” said His Excellency Abdulla bin
Hamad Al-Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and
Industry of the State of Qatar.
Data from the GTL flight will be
used by scientists in Qatar to further quantify GTL Jet Fuel use
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al
Baker, who was onboard the flight, said, “Once again, Qatar Airways has shown its
commitment to the environment and we expect this alternative fuel
to provide benefits, particularly the improvement of air quality.
This milestone flight is the first step in making this alternative
fuel available to airlines. Qatar Airways looks forward to
continuing to work with the consortium members to further develop
this exciting project and commit towards a cleaner environment.”
The GTL kerosene will be produced in commercial quantities by the
Pearl GTL project, currently under construction by Qatar Petroleum
and Shell. The project is expected to produce around one million
tonnes per annum of GTL kerosene from 2012, enough to power a
typical commercial airliner for half a billion kilometres
(equivalent to carrying 250 passengers around the world 4,000
times) when used in a 50% blend to make GTL Jet Fuel.
Jet Fuel, with GTL kerosene up to 50%, was fully and
unconditionally approved as safe for use in civil aviation by ASTM
International (originally known as the American Society for
Testing and Materials) last month. The approval followed two
years of separate research and discussion by the ASTM
specification group, a separate consensus body consisting of
producers, equipment manufacturers and consumers of aviation fuel.
Vice President Public Affairs and Communications, Rainer Ohler
said, “This is a major
breakthrough which brings us closer to a world where fuels made
from feedstocks such as wood-chip waste and other biomass is
available for commercial aviation. Airbus predicts that in 2030,
up to 30% of jet fuel will be alternative.”
In an earlier
phase of the research work, in February 2008, a test Airbus A380
flew from Filton in the United Kingdom to Toulouse in France in
the first ever use of GTL Jet Fuel to power an airliner.
See other recent news regarding: