Virgin Atlantic to trial recycled jet fuel

Virgin Atlantic has trialed a ground breaking jet fuel made from recycled waste gases to power one of its Orlando to London flights for the first time.


The international airline has been working with its industrial partner LanzaTech to develop the fuel, which is produced by capturing carbon-rich waste gases from steel mills and turning it into ethanol.

It is estimated that the low-carbon energy source could cut aviation emissions by more than 70%, and one day provide a fifth of all aviation fuel at a commercially viable price.

Sir Richard Branson said: “The appetite for long-haul travel is only getting bigger, and as airlines it’s our responsibility to deliver that in the most sustainable way possible.

“We call on others to help turn this tantalising tipping point into an exciting breakthrough in our joint fight against climate change.”

Branson went on to say that the new jet fuel could be kept price competitive with other traditional types because it is sourced from a plentiful and affordable waste stream.

Moreover, LanzaTech estimates that its process of capturing waste gases could be retrofitted to 65% of the world’s steel mills, suggesting the potential for a large-scale rollout.

The Chicago-based company has received funding from the US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office, and is now planning a facility that would be able to convert sustainable ethanol into millions of gallons of fuel per year.

Branson said Virgin Atlantic was also working with the company to secure the world’s first carbon capture and utilisation commercial jet fuel production facility in the UK.

“We’ve had some great support from the UK government so far,” he continued.

“But we now need to turn this into firm government action on incentives and investor commitment, to help us accelerate towards building the world’s first full size plant producing jet fuel from waste carbon gases.”


Image credit:iStock

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