Biofuels are a hot item these days; and not only in the automotive industry. Several companies have been working on alternatives to petroleum-based aviation fuels, but as of now, none are available on a commercial scale. But research and development is in full swing, and Wednesday marked another milestone in the path towards alternative aviation fuels when an algae-based biofuel passed the ASTM’s standard for “Aviation Turbine Fuel”.
Produced by Solazyme, the fuel is a bio-kerosene that is in fact derived from algae. According to Scientific American, the fuel is superior to other biofuels because it doesn’t freeze at high altitude. On top of that it has the same density as regular Jet-A, which other alternative fuels, derived from natural gas or coal, don’t have.
But don’t expect algae-based fueling stations at your local airport just yet. Solazyme doesn’t own the infrastructure to produce it on a large scale, and in the end, it’s all about money. “If we had our own equipment we could make millions of gallons,” says CEO Jonathan Wolfson. But the “capital involved in owning that equipment is massive.”