Feeds

Algae-fuelled* airliner test successful

Scum rises in Texas

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Update The world's first test of a passenger airliner partially powered by fuel made from algae took place successfully yesterday in Texas.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the jet, an unmodified Boeing 737-800 operated by US carrier Continental Airlines, took off from Bush Intercontinental airport in Houston at 1218 local time. After a series of manoeuvres over the Gulf of Mexico, including a midair engine shutdown and restart, the airliner returned to land without incident at 1345.

“The airplane performed perfectly,” test pilot Rich Jankowski told the Chronicle. “There were no problems. It was textbook.”

The 737 reportedly burned 3,600lb of biofuel mixed 50-50 with normal fossil jetfuel in one engine, and 3,700lb of regular juice in the other. According to Jankowski, this indicated that the test fuel was actually more efficient than normal supplies.

The biofuel component of the plane's fuel load was derived partly from Jatropha nuts and partly from algae. Jatropha plants are able to grow in arid regions not suitable for normal crops, and algae can grow on water surfaces. This means that both have the potential to be what the airline industry calls "second generation" or sustainable biofuels, which wouldn't put pressure on finite resources of farmland used for food and/or drive deforestation.

Air New Zealand carried out a test using jatropha fuel last month, but yesterday's flight was the first to use algae, seen by many in the airline industry as a primary way out of the problems posed by carbon levies and historically high fuel prices. The Continental test was also the first time that a twin-engine passenger jet has flown on biofuel. Thus far, the extra reassurance of having three engines running on old-school juice has been preferred.

“This is really kind of a landmark,” said Jankowski.

The Chronicle report can be read here. ®

Update

*It appears that in fact calling this an "algae fuelled" test was a little bit cheeky of Continental and Boeing. Flight International reports in passing that the biofuel used to provide 50 per cent of one engine's fuel was almost entirely from Jatropha feedstock (47.5 of that 50 per cent being jatropha, meaning that algae provided just 2.5 per cent of the plane's fuel).

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
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.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.