Remember back in June how Air New Zealand announced it was going to be trialling a biofuel mix in a 747 aircraft based on the jatropha plant? Well, they did it, and according to The Register, everything went off without a hitch. The plane used a 50-50 mixture of the biofuel and regular fuel in one engine, while the other three all had regular fuel running through them. They tested out a series of mid-air manoeuvres like engines stops, restarts, and got full power from the biofuel mix.
The reason they were using the jatropha plant is because it thrives in arid regions, and doesn’t require fertile land otherwise needed for forests or food farmland. Ideally, they could begin farming the plant in the middle of the Australian desert, although whether they could be mass-produced is still being debated.
Still, it’s great to see an airline taking a real pro-active approach to the problem they’re facing with fuel – ultimately, fossil fuels are destined to run out, so the further we can stretch them and the quicker we can come up with an alternative, the better.