Virgin boss, Richard Branson, has announced that not only will his company begin producing bio-fuels, but that he is going to test them out on one of his own 747s. Would you want to be on this maiden flight?
Speaking to the Mortgage Bankers Association, of all things, he said that by the start of next decade his company will be producing their own bio-fuels for use in buses, trains and cars.
"Early next year we will fly one of our 747s without passengers with one of the fuels that we have developed," said Branson. Branson has previously mentioned cellulosic ethanol as one potential source, but said that there are problems with it freezing above 15,000 feet, and that butanol may be more suitable. Virgin will be working with Boeing and GE Aviation to create the fuel.Previous tests using a blend of bio-fuel and regular aviation fuel have been performed before, such as that performed by CFM International. They used a 30% vegetable oil methyl ester / 70% Jet-A1 fuel mix.
"Our goal is to support the industry in identifying replacements for traditional hydrocarbon-based fuels, including synthetic fuels that use a mixture of bio-fuels and jet fuel," said Pierre Thouraud, vice president of engineering at CFM.
Air New Zealand has also announced that they have plans to test a flight with a combination of biofuel and kerosene late next year as well.
Branson has previously pledged to spend any profit he makes on his airline business for the next ten years on fighting global warming, and also founded Virgin Fuels in order to invest $400 million in research into renewable energy.