Boeing has announced that it will carry out tests of a new “2nd generation” biofuel using one of its 747s. The plane,owned by Air New Zealand will take off on December 13th. Because it is the first live test, only one of the plane’s 4 engines will use the fuel, made from the nuts of jatropha plants (pictured).
Jatropha is an inedible plant that is indigenous to Central America and the Caribbean, but grows in most of the warm weather regions of the world. Unlike earlier biofuel sources, which were grown on arable farmland, jatropha grows well in areas that cannot be used for agriculture. Its use, therefore, will not affect food prices or food supply.
The fuel is made by extracting the oil from the nuts of the plant. UOP, whose parent company is Honeywell, is responsible for producing the jatropha-fuel. According to Boeing, UOP’s production was “the world’s first large-scale production run of a commercially viable and sustainable biofuel for aviation use.” The biofuel will be mixed with regular jet fuel for the December 13th test.
[Via The Register]