Making History: Solazyme, United Airlines and Biofuels

13 12 2011

It was like any other flight. Window or aisle, peanuts or pretzels, wheels up then wheels down. But it wasn’t just any other flight.

Just last week United Airlines made aviation history with a Houston to Chicago trip: the first domestic commercial flight to utilize fuel derived from biofuels that were created by American company Solazyme.

That particular flight alone saved 10-12 tons of CO2. United Airlines sees the fuel as a step for them to reduce not only emission, but also to improve their bottom line.

Check out United Airlines and Solazyme’s spokesmen discuss their revolutionary partnership and why this flight is one for the history books.

US Navy’s “Green Strike Force”: A Blossoming Initiative

9 12 2011

We hear talk about biofuels within political debates and media specials.  Now, about how often you hear about sustainable fuels in the context of our ruggad, die-hard military and defense departments? If you ask me, they don’t exactly seem like the most ecologically-minded bunch.

navy, green strike force, biofuel, algae

Looking to lower their ecological footprint, the US Navy is creating a “Green Task Force” through purchasing half a million gallons of biofuel. They plan to meet a portion of the energy demandwithin their jet and carrier fleet. As an added and noteworthy bonus, this move also supports American jobs and economic vitatlity on our home soil. Most of the ordered fuels are made from re-processed cooking oil while many are algae-based.

Their over-arching hope is to meet their goal of 50% alternative, homegrown fuels by 2020.

The implications of this partnership could be various and extensive. Partnering with American clean fuel producers could help our nation secure energy security. The Navy relies on unstable, rogue nations for fuel and this provides perverse implications to our national secity. Moreover, these fossil fuels are subject to extreme price volatility, putting the Navy’s budget at risk. Biofuels, however, are produced domestically and do not exhibit that price volatility. Adding these renewable fuels into their diversified portfolio acts as a hedge against price risk.

Now this is blossoming relationship in which I want to keep up to date!

Take flight with Camelina.

13 09 2011

Q: How does a 48,000 pound aircraft lift off the ground without a second thought?

Several agencies including the U.S. Airforce and G.E. Aviation along with Embraer have successfully completed test flights over the past several months of aircraft ranging from the F-22 Raptor to CF34-8E-powered E-170. The raptor also seamlessly flaunted a supercruise earlier this year in California – a supersonic flight, sans spleen-bursting afterburner.

Here comes the kicker: both flew on biofuels.

March 18, 2011, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (Image: U.S. Air Force photo/Kevin North)

Camelina sativa is a fast growing crop that requires little water and inputs; it has become the recent acclaimed cohort in an ever evolving realm of research in a quest for the next aviation fuel. A cousin to the mustard and canola families, this multi-functional plant also reduces the majority of carbon dioxide emissions when compared to its dirty step cousin: traditional petrol-derived aviation fuel.

After the seed is processed and the oil extracted for fuel, a ‘meal’ is leftover. Not to be put to waste, the USDA has also deemed the residual meal fit for poultry or livestock feed.

So. How exactly does a 48,000 pound aircraft lift off the ground without a second thought?

With a little might, a lotta grease… and a pinch of homegrown biostock.