It warms the cockles of my heart to read stories that bring us one step closer to ending our “relationship” with OPEC. Recently, Continental airlines made a huge leap in this direction by testing their aircraft engines with bio-fuel.
This wasn’t “your mother’s” bio-fuel either, no sir… I’ve read countless stories about folks who take used restaurant grease and through a relatively simple chemical process, they alter the old fry oil into a viable fuel oil. Their diesel trucks even smell like french-fries when they idle. Let’s face it though; precious few of us have the time, the energy, or the inclination to convert our garages into bio-fuel plants. Plus, you’d have to work pretty hard to convince me to drive around and collect the old grease from the local restaurants in my neighborhood… yuck.
So like most of you, I’ve kept one eye open for the stories that show true planet friendly promise in a way that I can come forward and help be a part of and it looks like this one is on the horizon. The jet aircraft fuel in this story was derived from Jatropha plants and algae, both abundantly renewable. What Continental did was to take one of their multi-engine planes up in the air using traditional fossil fuel. Then the plan was to switch the fuel source from fossil to bio-fuel in midstream to test and examine the results.
The results were good! Not only did the post-flight exam discover that the engine hardware was unaffected by the switch, but analysis of the data confirmed that the engine met all performance requirements and functioned just like it was running on traditional fossil fuel. There were some results that suggested that under certain conditions, the bio-fuel engine actually used less fuel than the fossil fuel engine.
At last, something I can do to directly contribute to a substantial gain in the reduction of fossil fuel use. I’ll definitely look to Continental for my domestic flights in the future, knowing that a portion of my ticket price is earmarked for this type of research.
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