Image Credit: Pavel Vanka (Flickr)
Jumbo Aircraft Using 100% Plant-Based Fuel on Long-Range Flight is Now Reality
The environmental future and aviation future are on the same flight path. Airbus just completed another historic milestone that puts commercial flights using only renewables closer to their destination. For the first time, an Airbus 380 “superjumbo” conducted a three-hour flight propelled by 100 % recycled cooking oil as fuel in its engines. The flight was then repeated using a mix of plant-based products. The length of the flights and duration make this a significant achievement.
The superjumbo is a double-decker plane and has room for 545 people. A version used for testing was used for this historic experiment. The “green” fuel flight began at Airbus’s hometown of Toulouse, France, and was completed on the East coast in the city of Nice.
Four days later, Airbus repeated the test when the aircraft’s Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine was fed again with a mixture of non-fossil fuels, including recycled cooking oil and agricultural residues.
Over the past year, Airbus has flown three different types of test aircraft, each having landed without incident using sustainable aircraft fuel. The huge A380, now joins the company’s A319 and A350 planes, that have flown on similar fuels.
Reduces Carbon Dioxide by 80 Percent
Commercial airlines like Air France, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines use the 309 ton plane for long flights. With an Airbus 380’s range of 9300 miles, the eco-minded jet fuel would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 80 % on passenger flights to distant destinations.
In addition to environmental savings, Airbus, and presumably, other manufacturers can be enthusiastic that the eco-fuel is up to three percent more efficient than traditional jet fuel. With a consumption of 8.75 gallons of cooking oil per mile, over many miles, the range increases somewhat. However, the fuel that is not yet manufactured in scale costs as much as five times more than regular aviation fuels.
This means either more costly commercial airline tickets in the very first years or state subsidies funded by taxes until producing the fuel commercially gets fully off the ground. This has been done for other eco-energy sectors, including wind, solar, and EVs.
Other Green Aviation News
Eco-friendly jet fuels are being manufactured by companies like Gevo ($GEVO). The aircraft fuel manufacturer is building a huge green plant in South Dakota to make fuels from non-carbon sources. The plant won’t be producing cash flow until 2024. However, Gevo, Inc. has a strategic alliance with Axens North America, Inc. for ethanol-to-jet technology and sustainable aviation fuel commercial project development.
On March 25 Delta Air Lines signed a contract with Gevo which is a “take-or-pay” agreement with Delta to supply 75 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) per year for seven years.
Earlier in the fall of 2021, Chevron signed a deal to jointly invest in building and operating one or more facilities that would process corn to produce sustainable aviation fuel with GEVO.
Current research from Noble Capital Markets for the green fuel company GEVO is available on Channelchek at no cost.
The Air Transport Association (IATA) is the industry’s leading business trade association. The IATA has a stated aim to fly carbon neutral by 2050. Tests being undertaken by plane manufacturers like Airbus moves the world closer to accomplishing this goal. Plant-based fuel manufacturers like GEVO are working to ramp up production, which could help lower the costs to become more practical.
Managing Editor, Channelchek
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