Lufthansa launches tests on new biofuel

Airline to test new alcohol-to-jet fuel for planes

Lufthansa says it is testing a new type of biofuel for aircraft, using alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel.

It was the first airline to use biofuels in commercial flights in 2011, when it used a 50/50 mix of kerosene and a biofuel made from plant oils and animal fats in one engine per plane on daily flights between Frankfurt and Hamburg. But the trial stopped after six months because it was hard to find reliable stocks.

Now Lufthansa is partnering with Gevo, a US-based producer of ATJ fuel, to see how this blends with kerosene for aircraft. Gevo uses fermented plant waste to make a type of alcohol called isobutanol. The company says this is cheaper than current biofuel refining.


[pictured: First flight using ATJ fuel, Eglin Air Force Base, 2012; photo by Samuel King Jr., courtesy US Air Force]


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