Lufthansa to use biosynthetic fuel on long-haul transatlantic flight

German carrier Deutsche Lufthansa announced that it will operate the first scheduled transatlantic flight using biosynthetic fuel from 12 January 2012 under its PureSky program.

Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 D-ABVX Mumbai CSIA
Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 D-ABVX at Mumbai CSI airport.

A modified Boeing 747-400, carrying about 40 tonnes of a biosynthetic fuel mix, will fly from Frankfurt to Washington. With this flight alone, Lufthansa expects to reduce CO2 emissions by 38 metric tonnes, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of six scheduled flights between Frankfurt and Berlin.

The flight comes after Lufthansa announced positive results of a six-month practical trial involving biosynthetic fuel in which 1,187 biofuel flights were operated between Hamburg and Frankfurt which appear to have reduced CO2 emissions by 1,471 metric tonnes.

Lufthansa A321 D-AIDG fitted with a biofuel engine

From 15 July to 27 December 2011 a Lufthansa Airbus A321 was used to operate scheduled flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt route. One of the aircraft’s engines was powered by a 50-50 blend of regular fuel and biosynthetic kerosene. Apart from gaining experience on the use of biofuels, the test allowed the carrier to collect long-term data and examine the effects of the biofuel on the engines and the environment.

Biosynthetic kerosene is just as reliable as conventional Jet A-1 fuel which in addition to reducing CO2 emissions by 50% also allows a 1% reduction in fuel consumption with its higher energy density. Furthermore, biosynthetic fuels are free of sulphur and aromatic compounds.

Lufthansa’s biofuels project manager Joachim Buse stressed

“As a next step, we will focus on the suitability, availability, sustainability and certification of raw materials. But first we must tap into this market. However, Lufthansa will only continue the practical trial if we are able to secure the volume of sustainable, certified raw materials required in order to maintain routine operations,”

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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