Virgin Atlantic Low Carbon Fuel Breakthrough

Virgin Atlantic have announced today a ‘fuel breakthrough’ with news of a low carbon aviation fuel that will ‘halve the carbon footprint’ of the standard fossil fuel powered flights. Richard Branson said it is the most exciting news he has ever announced. A big moment indeed for sustainable travel, which leaves us with a few questions…

The story:

The carbon monoxide waste gases from industrial steel production will be captured and processed to convert them into liquid fuel suitable for use in aviation.

The revolutionary fuel production process recycles waste gases that would otherwise be burnt into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, said Virgin. They go on to say ” it is scalable and sustainable” – the process can be applied to other metal processing and chemical industries.

A demo flight is scheduled for the next 12 to 18 months, with commercial flights between London, Shanghai and Delhi operational in the next 2 to 3 years.

Here is Richard Branson making the announcement:

The burning questions:

We think this is an excellent example of recycling – using waste gases that would other wise go straight into the atmosphere. It does leave us with a couple of questions however.

Is this really a halving of your carbon footprint or a doubling of the amount we can fly on the same carbon footprint?

How many flights are ultimately going to be fuelled this way, and will Virgin be sharing this technology and fuel with other airlines for the sake of the industry as a whole?

Is the airline the best place to be using this new/recycled fuel or would it better redirected to more wasteful and inefficient industrial sectors where greater net co2 savings could therefore be made?

What do you think about all this??

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low carbon travel resources, carbon friendly flight finder, and alternative to carbon offsetting.