Fly the Earth-Friendly Skies

(“United marks nation’s first biofuel-powered commercial flight” by Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune, November 8, 2011)

Continental Airlines Flight 1403 made history when it landed at O’Hare International Airport on Monday, becoming the first revenue passenger trip in the U.S. powered by biofuel.

The Boeing 737-800, which was painted in the new environmental “eco-skies” livery of United Airlines and flown by Continental pilots, burned a “green jet fuel” derived partially from genetically modified algae that feeds off plant waste and produces oil.

In completing the Continental flight from Houston, parent company United Continental Holdings Inc. thus won by a scant two days the competition to launch the first biofuel-powered air service in the U.S.

On Wednesday, Alaska Airlines is scheduled to begin 75-passenger flights along with its sister airline, Horizon Air, that will take place over the next few weeks using a biofuel blend made from recycled cooking oil. Alaska Airlines officials said the 20 percent biofuel blend its planes will use will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent.

More U.S. airlines are expected to join the effort to fly more cleanly — and eventually more economically — than the use of traditional, petroleum-based Jet-A fuel allows, based on a crude oil price of $100 a barrel or higher, experts said.

(Full article at http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-1108-united-airlines-biofuel-plane-20111108,0,1786646.story)

Our Take:
How about that? Turns out B40—40 percent biodiesel– is a ‘drop-in’ fuel for jetliners. We think applications for renewable biofuels await around every corner. Without the politics of EPA’s fuel approval process, and without all the smoke the oil industry blows, we think E30 would be considered a drop-in fuel in today’s conventional car engines (no, don’t try this just yet—you’ll void your warrantee), but Detroit’s commitment to making every other car that comes off its assembly lines a flex-fuel vehicle pretty much accomplishes the same goal.

The big thinkers are telling us that solar is going to happen to the electric generation industry in America. It’s working in Germany, where they have 75 percent acceptance of a system to pay a premium on electric power that promotes renewable development.

Along with our new awareness of solar power, we hope everyone will recognize biofuels—from grains and plant matter alike—represent the most efficient method for putting solar energy into the gas tanks of our vehicles.

Together with plug-in electric vehicles, we could really clear the air, put a lot of people to work, and stop sending our hard earned dollars to OPEC.

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