Starting this week, Alaska Airlines will fly 75 commercial passenger flights on a fuel blend that consists of 20% biofuels. The fuel was supplied by SkyNRG, an aviation biofuels company, and made by Dynamic Fuels, a producer of 'next-generation' fuels made from used cooking oil. The fuel blend meets aviation and military safety, environmental, and performance standards, and unlike most biodiesel, it can be mixed with petroleum-based fuel and transported in existing pipelines.
Aviation biofuels are especially important to develop because flying will stick with energy-dense liquid fuels for the foreseeable future, unlike other forms of transportation which can more easily transition to electric motors and batteries or hypercapacitors. It's still best to fly as little as possible, but the flights that do happen should be powered by carbon-neutral fuels.
Our very own Brian Merchant will be on board the Alaska Airlines biofuel maiden flight on Wednesday and will have a chance to talk to the experts, so expect more details on this soon. What I'd most like to know is how high the blend can be pushed (any reason why they can't do 100% biofuels?), and how fast can production of it ramp up so that it can replace petroleum-based fuel?