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Could algae power flights of the future

by Colin Ricketts 05 Oct 2011
Could algae power flights of the future

Planes powered by algae might seem like something from the wilder reaches of science fiction but it could be on the way in the real world if a new business deal bears fruit.

Heliae, an Arizona company are the specialists in the magical green stuff, and they have just announced the first stages of an agreement to work with Dutch renewable jet fuel specialists SkyNRG to produce the juice that keeps our planes in the air.

You won't be taking off in an algae fuelled flight for a while yet, but both companies say they believe they are on the way to takeoff with the project and the airline industry is very keen to find renewable sources of fuel as oil dwindles and rises in price.

In 2006, green writer George Monbiot reported that greenhouse gas emissions from aviation were rising faster than from any other source: almost doubling in the period from 1990 to 2004, rising to 5.5% of all the emissions in the UK.

"We fully understand that algae-based jet fuel is in its infancy," SkyNRG Managing Director Dirk Kronemeijer said. "But we firmly believe in algae's promise as a source of truly renewable aviation fuel, and our aviation customers are, of course, very keen to see sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel that, in time, can be cost competitive. We see it as our mission to partner with firms like Heliae that are helping to make these alternatives a reality. We're truly impressed with the long term vision and commitment of Heliae's shareholders and with Heliae's technical progress to date."

SkyNRG was founded as a partnership between the airlines AIR FRANCE KLM Group, North Sea Group and Spring Associates after a KLM test flight using biofuel in 2009. The company aims to push for a sustainable and economically viable future for powering aircraft with biofuels.

Heliae Chief Executive Officer Dan Simon was equally upbeat about the new partnership, saying: "Heliae's team is developing the necessary technology to drive down the production costs of algae-based fuels to a level that legitimately competes with fossil fuels."

Heliae believes that algae are vital to the sustainable future of human's on earth: they've been around for more than three billion years and love feeding off CO2 and undrinkable nitrogen poisoned water.

Top Image Credit: Algae © Wheatley


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