Posted October 19th, 2011 by Stephen Roper

One of the UK’s most popular airlines, Virgin Atlantic has recently announced that they have partnered with New Zealand fuel specialist, Lanzatech in order to develop a new type of aviation fuel that will be made from waste gases from the steel industry.

Its estimated that the new fuel type will be available to be used on Virgin’s fleet in around two to three years. Virgin Atlantic say that not only will the new fuel make use of waste gases but it will also have half the carbon footprint compared with standard fossil fuel.

The new low carbon aviation fuel will be made by capturing waste gases from industrial steel production then fermenting it and chemically converting it using a technology created by ‘Swedish Biofuels.’ It is currently being piloted in New Zealand and has been demonstrated in the past to a US Government Research Agency.

As facilities to produce the new low carbon fuel are currently being set up in China and India, Virgin are considering using it on their Shanghai and Delhi to London Heathrow flights within the next 3 years. After this it’s likely that the fuel will be used on many other planes operating in the UK and around the world.

The company behind the project Lanzatech say that the new technology could easily be applied to over 60% of the world’s steel mills so that the new fuel can be used on flights all around the globe.

Chief Executive of Lanzatech, Jennifer Holmgren said “This new and exciting technology will allow airlines around the world to reduce their carbon footprints by re-using gases that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere causing damage to the environment.”

Virgin Atlantic are planning the first test flight using the new aviation fuel in around the next 12 – 18 months. The company hopes that buy using this new fuel on their flights this should help them hit their target of a 30% carbon reduction per passenger by 2020.

British Airways has also recently announced that they will be making a new deal with American Biofuel to create a plant in the UK that will recycle 500,000 tonnes of waste material into 16,000,000 gallons of fuel for them to use in their planes.

The new plant is the first time British Airways has made a move into the recycling market and will probably mean they will get big tax breaks from the government. The government has not comment on the deal yet but this will be seen as a major breakthrough for the green movement in Britain.

The new recycling plant will be built within the next two years after planning permission has been given and is expected to create up to 1200 jobs.

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