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Air New Zealand is the latest airliner to test a new biofuel

In an attempt to reduce its fuel bill and limit its carbon footprint, Air New Zealand successfully tested a new vegetable oil biofuel during a two-hour trial flight earlier in the week.

The flight "milestone" involved using a 50-50 mixture of jatropha oil -- made from a plum-sized fruit -- with regular jet A1 fuel in one engine of a Boeing 747-400 aircraft.  The biofuel industry has also shown a strong interest in using grass, algae and halophytes as possible biofuels.

"There's still a lot of analysis to be done but we achieved a lot with the test flight and the maneuvers we've done," Air New Zealand pilot Captain Dave Morgan told the New Zealand Herald.  "The aircraft performed flawlessly."

Despite a stronger movement to use biofuels to power cars, airline companies have been working with jet manufacturers to try and integrate biofuels for commercial flights.  Last February, Virgin Atlantic tested a flight with a mixture of Brazilian nuts and coconuts with regular jet fuel.  Continental Airlines plans to test a flight using a 50-50 mix of traditional jet fuel along with algae and jatropha.

Aviation industry insiders indicate it'll be easier to convert planes to biofuels when compared to cars, trucks and other land vehicles -- the infrastructure would involve only a few hundred fueling station, rather than the millions that would be required.  Critics say airliners relying on biofuels could help increase deforestation in the Amazon rain jungles, and could lead to food prices increasing further in the future.

Airline companies were hit hard in 2008 by skyrocketing oil prices and must now prepare for less air travelers due to the struggling economy.  Expect both jet manufacturers and airline companies to work together to in the future to hasten the adoption of biofuels.

This is first stage in ANZ's attempt to utilize sustainable fuel development, and it's unknown when the company plans to launch further tests.



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Green gooey algae is our friend
By AnnihilatorX on 1/1/2009 9:43:29 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about jatropha. But Algae can be grown absolutely anywhere with sun and water (thus can be housed in a tank). Unlike grass it doesn't require firm soil. Artificial algae tanks can be placed on rooftops or unproductive wasteland. They grow fast and are easily mass cultured. Although they look disgusting, they are not invasive species and easily containable.




RE: Green gooey algae is our friend
By mdogs444 on 1/1/2009 10:00:45 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Artificial algae tanks can be placed on rooftops

quote:
Although they look disgusting


If they look disgusting, who would want them on their rooftops? lol. People already don't want solar panels on their rooftops because of the sore eye sight.


By Tsuwamono on 1/1/2009 10:23:16 AM , Rating: 3
I think he means office buildings.


By KnightCG on 1/1/2009 3:30:07 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
People already don't want solar panels on their rooftops because of the sore eye sight.


That's a cultural perception that will change over time. There are enough solar panels out here in Hawaii (for obvious reasons) that no one even notices them anymore. The sight of a black panel covered roof has become 'normal' so no one frets about the aesthetics.


RE: Green gooey algae is our friend
By gerf on 1/1/2009 10:41:04 AM , Rating: 3
Have you considered the amount of expense in large water holding containers as compared to soil?
1. The container needs to be built. It will need to be relatively heavy duty to hold as much water as you plan, and also clear. So we're looking at large amounts of plastic.
2. The weight of the container on a building is very large. Most roofs won't hold nearly that much weight. Even in the weird event it would, the building structure itself would need to support it as well, as well as the foundation.
3. Algae may produce bio-stuff, but it still needs to be pumped and processed quite a lot.

So is it worth it to have a cube of water on your roof yet? I doubt it.


RE: Green gooey algae is our friend
By Samus on 1/1/2009 7:10:40 PM , Rating: 2
Coming from a horticulure background specializing in hydroponics...

1. only the walls need to be white. the top of the container needs to be clear (obviously) but water is extremely refractive at shallow depth and the walls will reflect a decent spectrum for balanced vegetative growth.

2. Most containers are made out of PVC plastics. Water is 99% of the weight. Since you will be growing a shallow depth, lets say 1 meter, on a large rooftop, say 10 meter x 10 meter, would be apx. 3.3 tons water. Most buildings have close to this much weight on them already when accounting for HVAC, communications, etc. Keep in mind, 3.3 tons is the weight of two cars. Some buildings can support construction equipment (15-ton crains!) during construction projects.

3) no arguement. except to have these containers built on the rooftops of building with processing equipment on-site.


By BZDTemp on 1/1/2009 7:31:44 PM , Rating: 2
10 meter x 10 meter x 1 meter = 100 cubic meter. one cubic meter of water is 1 ton so how do you make it 3.3 tons?

If you want a 10 meter x 10 meter tank to weigh only 3.3 tons you will need it to be very shallow indeed. In fact it would have to be less than 3.3 centimeter to account for the weight of the tank itself.


By lucasb on 1/1/2009 1:57:11 PM , Rating: 2
IMHO, rooftops are much more useful to filter pollutants in stormwater and air, to insulate buildings and as a tool against heat islands.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_roof
I don't think it's very wise to use your roof to grow algae.


Lessons learned?
By Nfarce on 1/1/2009 9:55:37 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Critics say airliners relying on biofuels could help increase deforestation in the Amazon rain jungles, and could lead to food prices increasing further in the future.


What, did nobody learn anything from corn prices and the following food price increases after the increase in ethanol production? There is hardly a product on grocery store shelf that does not have some variant of corn in it, and of course everyone knows how much beef prices have gone up. Thanks for nothing, especially since my Infinity owner's manual says NO to ethanol blends. I don't want that feel good corrosive crap in my tank. The only people who really benefit from it are the farmers.

In any event, does anyone have any sense of sanity and realism on the scale of how much algae or nut plants and coconut trees it would take to produce biofuel? Lets be more realistic in this second attempt at alternative fuels please.




RE: Lessons learned?
By Tsuwamono on 1/1/2009 10:25:57 AM , Rating: 2
If made from sugar cane like they do in brazil it wont really effect much. Brazil has been using biofuel for years...


RE: Lessons learned?
By Nfarce on 1/1/2009 10:59:22 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah but Brazil is the #1 producer of sugar cane, isn't it? We aren't Brazil and can only grow sugar cane in south Florida and Hawaii, let alone the scale of our energy demands in comparison. As we say in America, that dog won't hunt.


RE: Lessons learned?
By Ringold on 1/1/2009 11:00:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Brazil has been using biofuel for years...


What does that prove?

How much lower would various crop prices be if Brazil converted all that sugarcane production for vehicles to production for human consumption? Hard to say, general equilibrium prices for the entire globe isn't exactly something a human can do in their head, but logic dictates more supply with a given demand leads to lower prices. Thats just 101 stuff.

There is simply no way to take land that could be dedicated to food production and instead growing fuel for vehicles and say that there is no real effect. Just because Brazil currently grows sugarcane for fuel consumption doesn't mean there aren't potentially very large opportunity costs.


RE: Lessons learned?
By JediJeb on 1/2/2009 2:25:28 PM , Rating: 2
The thing is we really don't have to take ground for producing food out of production to grow biofuels. The government is paying billions of dollars a year to keep large amounts of ground out of food production. These areas could be taken out of the set aside programs and put back into use to grow the biofuels with no effect on the food prices.

Also the farmers didn't benefit so much from higher corn prices, most of that went to the traders and other middle men. Until this past year, farmers were still getting the same price for the corn they produce that they got back in 1970, or sometimes even lower prices, yet they pay over 10 times as much for their fuel and equipment as they did in 1970. As for beef, a fed out steer is selling at about $0.70 per pound right now to farmers, maybe even a little less, that is the same price they got for them back in 1970 also. Yet when you buy it in a store the price is much higher, all the money is being made in between.

This past year has actually help farmers pay off some of the debt they have accumulated over the years because the average consumer wants cheap food and the people who handle the products between the farmer and consumer want a bigger share. If the average farmer had a lifestyle like the average middle class worker has, then we would be paying $10 for loaf of bread and $20 for a BigMac.

Sorry for the rant, but it just burns me up when someone mentions farmers making out big when they got the shaft just like everyone else.


"carbon footprint"
By semo on 1/1/2009 10:42:36 AM , Rating: 2
it's carbon dioxide everyone is worried about. c02 for short.

pure carbon isn't a pollutant afaik




RE: "carbon footprint"
By foolsgambit11 on 1/1/2009 6:01:07 PM , Rating: 2
Stop being difficult. Everyone understands that, when you talk about carbon in relation to air pollution, you're talking about carbon dioxide. The term 'carbon footprint' has been in the vulgar vocabulary for more than a year. It's used to refer to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of a single person's (or organization's) activities. In case you actually weren't aware, but decided to spend 30 seconds posting a pointless comment instead of spending 30 seconds doing a Google search.


By Denithor on 1/1/2009 9:02:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Last February, Virgin Atlantic tested a flight with a mixture of Brazilian nuts and coconuts with regular jet fuel. Continental Airlines plans to test a flight using a 50-50 mix of traditional jet fuel along with algae and jatropha.


I think you mean they tested regular fuel mixed with biofuel derived from Brazilian nuts & cocounts, right? Somehow I don't think algae, nuts & coconuts would pass through the fuel filter very well...




Cooking oil for planes ?
By xxman999 on 1/2/2009 5:23:37 AM , Rating: 2
So does that mean in the event of a crash, we now get deep fried instead of just burnt ?




Switch Grass is Fuel of the Future
By Darkk on 1/3/2009 9:12:42 PM , Rating: 2
Switch grass is plentiful and easy to grow.

I think that is the ticket to biofuels.




Terrible News
By on 1/1/09, Rating: -1
RE: Terrible News
By mdogs444 on 1/1/2009 10:03:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
strategically trotted out by the left wing media to try to turn this world into a socialist/communist/terrorist Obama-state.

Absolutely true. They want everyone in the world to hold hands and sing peace songs together, like we're all members of Code Pink. The problem is, that the US, and other developed countries, will need to be on the decline for an extensive period of time until all other 2nd and 3rd world countries catch up to be on a level playing field.


RE: Terrible News
By FITCamar0 on 1/1/2009 10:24:22 AM , Rating: 2
Code pink, ever visit New Orleans or Detroit? Certain parts of the USA are approaching third world standards already.


RE: Terrible News
By Nfarce on 1/1/09, Rating: 0
RE: Terrible News
By GaryJohnson on 1/1/2009 11:42:12 AM , Rating: 2
I tell ya, I hate paying taxes for roads 'cause I jetpack everywhere I go. Stupid poor people and their ground-based transportation.


RE: Terrible News
By Nfarce on 1/1/2009 12:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
There was a reason I specified FEDERAL income taxes. Read much or do you just emotionalize your way through blogs?

FYI, where I come from, roads are funded by gas taxes. If you have a problem with the poor paying sales taxes and whatnot, take it up with your state and local representatives, if you even know who in the hell they are.


RE: Terrible News
By lucasb on 1/1/2009 1:47:41 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Absolutely true. They want everyone in the world to hold hands and sing peace songs together, like we're all members of Code Pink.

Just as every right-winger want everyone to pray in schools, carry guns in their useless trucks and use the government to legislate about morality.
I expect this comment to be rated down by the right-wing majority at Dailytech.


RE: Terrible News
By PascalT on 1/1/2009 11:18:32 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is terrible news, strategically trotted out by the left wing media to try to turn this world into a socialist/communist/terrorist Obama-state.


Is that you George? go back in your cage, come on now, tsk tsk.


RE: Terrible News
By GaryJohnson on 1/1/2009 11:37:43 AM , Rating: 2
I thought it was the crazy-mccain-rally-lady.


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