KLM goes Green

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At a time when airplane companies like Qatar Air and SingaporeAirlinesare winning awards, Air France is planning on winning over the environment.

KLM, which merged with Air France in 2004 and has led among airlines in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, said many factors affect the level of sustainability of bio-fuels.

Air France-KLM Group, Europe’s biggest air carrier, will start flying planes fuelled by used cooking oil, starting in September.

It ensures the quality of its bio-kerosene with advise from the Sustainability Board, which includes the Dutch wing of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and theCopernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht.

All the bio-fuel used will be almost chemically identical to kerosene and aircraft engines won’t need to be adapted.

The carriermade clear its support for the WWF’s Energy Report, which saysalternative fuels made from biomass are the only appropriate replacement for fossil fuels for sectors such as the airline industry.

Biokerosene

KLM said its supplies – which are collected from hotels, restaurants and factories before being sent to the US for refining.

The bio-kerosene is supplied by SkyNRG and made by Dynamic Fuels, a United States-based joint-venture of Tyson Foods and Syntroleum Corp.

Dynamic Fuels operates a plant in Louisiana that is recognized as the first U.S. industrial-scale production facility for bio-fuels. The company makes fuel from animal fats such as inedible porcine fat, vegetable cooking oil used in frying, fat from wash water in beef rendering and from factory cooking operations, and unrefined, inedible soybean oil produced from the refining process.

More than 200 KLM flights between Amsterdam and Paris will start running on a blend of traditional fuel and the waste oil, according to a statement on the airline’s website.

Airlines are under EU pressure to cut their carbon emissions by 3% by 2012.

The International Air Transport Association set a target in 2007 to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from air travel by 2050.

Carbon footprint

Air travel is responsible for about 3 percent of greenhouse gases, but their share of global emissions is rising rapidly.

Airlines gained permission to power planes using a blend of traditional fuels and bio-fuels, such as algae and organic waste, on June 9 when the U.S. technical standards body ASTM International granted initial approval for their use.

Tests

KLM’s interest in bio-fuels dates back to 2009, when it ran a test flight carrying 40 people, including the then Dutch economics affairs minister.

The 90-minute flight was majority powered by traditional aviation fuel, with just one of the its four engines powered 50% by bio-fuel.

Future flights will use half traditional kerosene and half bio-fuel.

Virgin, Air New Zealand, Air Japan and Continental Airlines have previously completed similar demonstration flights using bio-fuel mixes.

Cost

Increasing the use of bio-fuels in air travel is still “enormously challenging,” Camiel Eurlings, managing director of the KLM unit, said in the statement. “The costs of bio-fuels need to come down substantially and permanently.”

He also said it was aiming to go much further than that: “The route to 100% sustainable energy is enormously challenging. We need to move forward together to attain continuous access to sustainable fuel.”

Airbus SAS estimates airlines may consume about 30 per cent of their fuel from plant-based sources by 2030, Paul Nash, the plane builder’s head of new energies, said in a recent interview.

Others

Other carriers are similarly exploring the use of bio-fuels to improve sustainability and lower carbon emissions.

Continental, Japan Airlines and Virgin Atlantic are among those that have tried using fuel sustainably made from sources such as algae, coconut oil and jatropha.

Brazilian airline TAM partnered with Airbus last year to become the first to fly a bio-kerosene-fueled plane in Latin America.

Source: Edmonton Times, BBC, All Headline News, Yahoo news, Aviation Answers

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