The first commercial flight fuelled from recycled industrial waste has successfully touched down at London’s Gatwick Airport.
The Virgin Atlantic 747’s flight was the first to use a new blend of normal jet fuel and ethanol produced from waste gases.
Sir Richard Branson, the airline’s founder, believes the blend could be the first step towards lowering the aviation sector’s carbon footprint.
“This fuel takes waste, carbon-rich gases from industrial factories and gives them a second life so that new fossil fuels don’t have to be taken out of the ground.”
The alternative fuel is produced by a company called LanzaTech. According to the company the fuel is primarily made from waste carbon monoxide that’s usually vented to the atmosphere from steel plants.
Rather than have the gas go to waste, LanzaTech captures them and feeds them to a collection of proprietary microbes that eat the gases and create alcohol that can be refined into long hydrocarbons that create fuel.
The Guardian reports that the flight’s fuel blend was 5% recycled, but the sustainable element could eventually form up to 50%.
Furthermore LanzaTech claims it could eventually supply about 20% of the aviation industry’s fuel, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 65% compared with conventional petroleum.
Video source: LanzTech