Continental Airlines has used
sustainable biofuel to power a commercial aircraft.
demonstration flight was conducted in partnership with
Boeing, GE Aviation/CFM International, and Honeywell’s
UOP using a two-engine aircraft - a Boeing 737-800
equipped with CFM International CFM56-7B engines.
demonstration flight represents another step in
Continental’s ongoing commitment to fuel efficiency and
environmental responsibility,” said Chairman and Chief
Executive Officer Larry Kellner. “The technical
knowledge we gain today will contribute to a wider understanding
of the future for transportation fuels.”
The biofuel blend
includes components derived from algae and jatropha plants, both
sustainable, second-generation sources that do not impact food
crops or water resources or contribute to deforestation.
The algae oil provided by
Sapphire Energy, and the jatropha oil by Terasol Energy.
737-800, tail number 516, departed from and returned to Houston’s
Bush Intercontinental Airport operating under a specially-issued
“Experimental” aircraft type certificate.
flight, which lasted approximately two hours,
Continental test pilots engaged the aircraft in a number
of normal and non-normal flight maneuvers, such as
mid-flight engine shutdown and re-start, and power
accelerations and decelerations. A Continental engineer
recorded flight data onboard.
operated with a biofuel blend, which consists of 50%
biologically- derived fuel and 50% traditional jet fuel,
in the No. 2 engine. This biofuel blend will result in a
significant net decrease in carbon emissions relative to
traditional jet fuel, as both jatropha and algae consume
carbon during their lifecycles. The aircraft’s No. 1
engine operated on 100% traditional jet fuel, allowing
Continental to compare performance between the biofuel
blend and traditional fuel.
The biofuel is
a “drop-in” fuel, and no modifications to the aircraft
or engine are necessary for the flight to operate. The
biofuel meets and exceeds specifications necessary for
jet fuel, including a flash point and a freezing point
appropriate for use in aircraft.
combination of sunlight, CO2 and algae to produce a
carbon-neutral, renewable fuel source has the potential
to profoundly change the petrochemical landscape
forever,” said Jason Pyle, Sapphire Energy CEO.
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