Planes to run on vegetable oil & animal fat

Jets in Europe will soon run on eco-fuel produced from vegetable oil and animal fat. The new fuel will be mixed with traditional kerosene.

As the Independent reports, planes running on the mixture of renewable and traditional fuel will start flying next year from Geneva in Switzerland. The airport wants biofuel to have a one percent share of sales at the airport for a start, according to Matti Leivonen, the CEO of Finnish company Neste that produces the fuel.

Lufthansa tested the company’s fuel on more than 1,000 flights in 2011 with a 50-50 blend of biofuel to kerosene. “It worked amazingly well,” Lievonen told the British newspaper.

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“Engine performance improved. We have a very good track record in aviation, and it’s an exciting growth area for us,” he said.

Neste claims its fuel emits up to 40 percent less particulate matter, 10 percent less Nitrous Oxide and up to 90 percent fewer carbon emissions. The company says its fuel also comes in a form suitable for any traditional diesel engine, meaning it can be used in cars.

The main reason why vegetable and other sorts of oil are not widely used in aviation is that they do not have an extremely low freezing point, as it turns solid at about 5°C, while safety standards require it to remain liquid down to -40°C. Some additives improve the cold weather tolerance of such fuels, but only by a few degrees.

While aviation biofuel can be produced, it is still more expensive than oil-based jet fuel.

The world’s first commercial biofuel flight was performed by KLM, carrying 171 passengers from Amsterdam to Paris and running on waste vegetable oil.

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