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Virgin Boasts of New Low-Carbon Fuel

The airline associated with cheap holidays to the USA is now working on aviation fuel with half the normal carbon footprint.

The holy grail for the aviation industry is currently to develop a truly eco-friendly form of flying. While cheap holidays have been great for soothing the worries and cares of British travellers, they have not been so friendly to the environment. So it was good to hear this week about Virgin Atlantic’s announcement – the development of the world’s first low-carbon jet fuel.

Virgin claims that the new fuel, which has been developed as a partnership with energy firm LanzaTech, boasts just half the carbon footprint of the standard fuel used in the aviation sector. It has been made possible through technology which captures waste gases from industrial steel production and chemically converting them into fuel. These gases would have otherwise been simply released as CO2 into the atmosphere.

The airline has said that it plans to begin using the low-carbon fuel within the next three years, on routes from London Heathrow to Delhi and Shanghai, due to LanzaTech’s ongoing expansion in India and China. However, it added that the process should be able to be introduced into 65 per cent of the world’s steel mills, which means there’s nothing to stop it becoming standard practice eventually.

Sir Richard Branson basked in the glow of green kudos today when he declared that “this partnership to produce a next generation, low-carbon aviation fuel is a major step towards radically reducing our carbon footprint, and we are excited about the savings that this technology could help us achieve.”

“With oil running out, it is important that new fuel solutions are sustainable, and with the steel industry alone able to deliver over 15 billion gallons of jet fuel annually, the potential is very exciting. This new technology is scalable, sustainable and can be commercially produced at a cost comparable to conventional jet fuel.”

Sir Richard went on to say that Virgin Atlantic plans a test flight using the new fuel within the next 18 months.