747 Soars on Plant Fuel

During a 2-hour test flight, Air New Zealand flew a 747 aircraft on a 50-50 blend of conventional fuel and biofuel made from the jatropha plant.

Jatropha, a flowering plant native to Central America, is more durable than traditional biofuel crops, like soybeans and corn, requiring less water and fertilizer and can be grown in sandy, saline or infertile soil.

It also has a higher yield per seed, producing 30-40% of its mass in oil. A barrel of jatropha oil costs roughly $43, while crude oil can surge over $120 per barrel.

Results of the test flight will be reviewed in hopes of finding a viable, cheaper source of fuel for the struggling airlines.

Another experimental jet fuel is being derived from algae. Even animal lard, including liposuctioned human fat, can be converted to fuel.

Via The New York Times.

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