Flight reports that Virgin Atlantic will likely use a first-generation feedstock-based biodiesel or hydrogenated vegetable oil in its test flight this month. The airline is due to fly one of its Boeing 747s between London Heathrow and Amsterdam using a 20% blend of biofuel to power one of four GE CF6-80C2 engines, and has been working with Boeing and engine manufacturer GE Aviation on the initiative since last April. (Earlier post.)
Virgin has remained tight-lipped about the choice of biofuel, claiming it intends to use a “truly sustainable type” that did not compete with food and fresh water resources.
Boeing now admits that it will not be an algae or halophyte-derived alternative, second-generation biofuels that come from renewable and sustainable feedstocks. Rather, it will be a first-generation biofuel whose feedstock is generally understood to compete with either land and water use for food crops or carbon sinks such as rainforests.
Speaking to Flight at the Singapore air show, Boeing energy and emissions technology leader Dave Daggett said the Virgin flight would definitely not use algae-derived fuel, using instead what he called a first-generation feedstock, ie soy, canola, babassu or palm oil.