Feeds

Kiwis deploy nut-crush powered jumbo

Oily juice triumph in Antipodes

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Air New Zealand says it has successfully carried out the first airliner flight test using "second generation" biofuel, manufactured from plants which don't require good farmland to grow. Such biofuels-2.0 potentially have no ill effects on food prices or deforestation, yet could seriously lower airlines' carbon numbers.

Flight International reports that the flight was made by a Kiwi Boeing 747-400 fitted with Rolls-Royce RB211 engines. One of the four big jets was fuelled up 50-50 with ordinary jetfuel and biofuel sourced from jatropha nuts. Various manoeuvres including engine stops and restarts in mid-air were carried out without incident, and full power was apparently available from the half-biofuelled engine.

Jatropha nuts are tolerant of being grown in arid climes, and their advocates suggest that they could be viably grown in deserts and other unused regions. This would avoid the use of scarce arable land, or deforestation to create more.

Air New Zealand believes it would need plantations totalling 1.25 million hectares to run entirely on jatropha. That would equate to about 85 per cent of New Zealand's arable land, but hardy jatropha might, for instance, be grown in the deserts of Australia. There are 1.4 million square kilometres of deserts in Oz, enough to fuel a hundred airlines the size of ANZ if they were all covered in jatropha plants.

That said, many are sceptical that the oily nuts can really be grown en masse in deserts, harvested and processed into fuel at a reasonable cost in money, energy and water. Some believe that true gen-2.0 biofuel can only be raised from algae blooms, perhaps even grown on salt water. Others consider that in fact a variety of different feedstocks will be used to produce fuels to a common standard in future.

The airline industry tends to focus especially hard on bio or other synthetic hydrocarbon fuels, as - unlike the car industry - it has few other alternatives. Options such as hydrogen and electric power are much harder to use in aircraft, which are low weight, high power technology. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.