Virgin Atlantic’s low carbon fuel partnership with LanzaTech has taken a vital step forward as the airline today completed its first-ever flight using jet fuel made partly from recycled industrial waste.
Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Atlantic)
The fuel was used on a flight from Orlando to London Gatwick, “demonstrating the art of the possible, and taking a landmark leap towards making this ground-breaking new low carbon technology a mainstream reality,” according to Virgin Atlantic’s founder, Sir Richard Branson.
Branson, who was on hand to greet the passengers as the flight landed, said, “I was so proud to marshall the 747 into Gatwick and thank our team and customers for being a part of making aviation history. There was rapturous applause from the passengers and the crew – I could tell everyone was as excited as I was by the enormous potential of this new technology. “
Since 2011, Virgin Atlantic has been working with Illinois-based LanzaTech to pioneer technology that captures and recycles carbon-rich industrial waste gases from steel mills into ethanol – gases that would otherwise go up the chimney into the atmosphere. The ethanol, in turn, can be used for a variety of low carbon products, including jet fuel.
Because it uses waste carbon, the LanzaTech jet fuel has the potential to achieve 70 percent lower carbon emissions compared to regular fossil jet, and no land or food competition issues. The company estimates its process could be retrofitted to 65 percent of the world’s steel mills, to produce nearly one fifth of all aviation fuel used each year, at a commercially viable price.
“We’re at a tantalising tipping point for making this ground-breaking new tech a commercial reality - as long as we can get support from the UK government. We want to secure the world’s first carbon capture and utilization (CCU) commercial jet fuel production facility in the UK,” Branson concluded.