Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Algae-fueled Planes One Step Closer to Reality

So we've already seen bio-fuel powered aircraft and algae-fueled biodiesel cars....why not combine the two and get the maximum environmental benefit?

Biofuel made from algae, also known as cellulosic ethanol has the advantage of requiring far less carbon emissions to produce than corn or sugar-based ethanol. It is cleaner burning and less damaging to the environment overall. It also avoids the ethical dilemma of burning foodstuffs to create fuel for cars, which seems especially insensitive to developing countries struggling with legitimate hunger problems of their own. According to PhysOrg, Algae is also useful for its ability to consume atmospheric carbon dioxide, where other plants would be used for agriculture.

European aerospace company EADS is developing a Diamond DA 42 that is fueled partially with cellulosic ethanol from algae. The plane debuted at the Berlin Air Show in June 2010.

According to Inhabitat, the algae-based fuel has such high energy content that the plane would require a half-gallon (1.5 liters) less fuel per hour than with conventional fuel.

Even the Pentagon is taking notice. A new federal DARPA project aims to test a 50-50 blend of cellulosic ethanol on military planes within the next year. If that is any indication, it may be only a matter of time before the fuel makes the transition to regular commercial aircraft, one of the biggest and most entrenched contributors to climate change.

Via: Inhabitat

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