The plane of United that performed the first commercial flight powered by biofuel processed from algae. (Photo: unitedcontinentalholdings)
Airline begins commercial flights powered by green biofuel
Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 03:40 (GMT + 9)
United Continental Holdings company announced that on 7 November its subsidiary Continental Airlines performed the first commercial flight in the country powered by advanced biofuel.
A Boeing 737-800 covered the route from Houston to Chicago using a mix of sustainable biofuels and conventional jet fuel derived from petroleum called Solajet. This fuel meets the requirements of the international certification that were also approved by the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States (FAA).
"United is taking a significant step forward to promote the use of alternative fuels that are cost-effective and environmentally friendly," said Pete McDonald, executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO) of the airline.
"One day sustainable biofuels, produced in large quantities at an economically viable price, will play an important role in the propulsion of airline flights that people take," the executive added.
John Heimlich, vice president of the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) welcomed that only about four months after the approval of the renewable fuels that are hydroprocessed for use in commercial aviation were employed on a national commercial flight in the US.
Solazyme firm was the one that developed algae oil, which was then refined to make it the bio-jet fuel used to power United’s commercial flights.
This company produced the first jet fuel in the world that is 100 per cent derived from algae for applications on commercial and military aviation, Canal Plus Pr reported.
Solazyme uses microbial algae growing on fermentation tanks and feeding on sugars from the plants that accumulate solar energy.
United signed a letter of intent with Solazyme to trade the purchase of 20 million gallons of fuel per year that will derive exclusively from algae oil by 2014.
Jimmy Samartzis, director of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability at United, assured that "developing a more diverse fuel supply that is greener for the future is a top priority for United."
By Analia Murias