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Virgin Atlantic Airways to Develop Low Carbon Aviation Fuel Using Industrial Waste Gas

Virgin Atlantic Airways has declared the development of a new low carbon aviation fuel that emits just half the level of carbon dioxide emissions when compared to normal fossil fuel. It has entered into a joint venture with LanzaTech to produce aviation fuel by capturing waste gases released during the industrial steel production process, ferment them and chemically change them into jet fuel by utilizing a Swedish biofuels technology.

Virgin Atlantic Aircraft Flight. Credit: Virgin Atlantic

The technological process enables recycling of waste gases that otherwise would have been burnt and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

The technology is presently being tested in New Zealand and the company has plans to commission a bigger sized demonstration facility in Shanghai before the end of the current year. The company has plans to commission the commercial operations of the facility in China by the year 2014. On successful completion of the project in China, the company has plans to roll-out the facility in the UK and other places in the world. The company has plans to utilize the new fuel in its flight routes from Shanghai and Delhi to London from its proposed developments in China and India.

According to an estimation provided by LanzaTech, the new process can be applied to around 65% of the steel mills around the world and the generated fuel can be rolled out for commercial usage. It also considers that the process can be extended in other industries such as chemical industries and metals processing thus improving its production potentials.

Virgin Atlantic will become the first airline to use the fuel in its proposed demo flight proposed in 12 to 18 months period and it is looking forward to attaining the required technical approval by working in association with Swedish Biofuels, Boeing and LanzaTech. The company anticipates that the new development will enable it to achieve its promised 30% carbon decrease per passenger km by the year 2020.


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