Virgin Atlantic: Recycled steel emissions could power its planes

Virgin Atlantic photo
CC BY 2.0 Eluveitie

We know that aviation is very carbon intensive. And we also know that steel production uses a huge amount of energy, creating its own emissions problems. Now, as reported at Bloomberg, a partnership between US-based LanzaTech and Virgin Atlantic claims to have produced 1,500 gallons of jet fuel from low-carbon ethanol.

The ethanol is created by capturing waste carbon monoxide gas from steel mills. Instead of burning that carbon monoxide off as carbon dioxide, the carbon is instead captured via fermentation to alcohol, producing an ethanol feedstock. Each gallon of ethanol produced delivers half a gallon of aviation fuel.

Of course, the sharp reader will note that capturing gases from one polluting industry and emitting them as part of another means that emissions don't really go away, but they do do double duty. Still, Business Green reports that according to LanzaTech, around a third of the carbon emitted by steel facilities could be captured in this way. And from Virgin Atlantic's perspective, the process represents a 65% reduction in emissions when compared to conventional jet fuel.

So, this is not a panacea by any means. But it is a sign of progress in two industries that badly need to get going on a lower carbon path.

Tags: Air Travel | Biofuels

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