February 17, 2008

Boeing explores using biofuel to power jets

Boeing Co. said its planes may fly on a mix of biofuel and jet kerosene within five years.

The company has been examining the use of alternative fuels for two years, environment director Billy Glover said. A Virgin Atlantic Airways Boeing 747 is scheduled to make the first biofuel-powered test flight for a commercial plane later this month.

Boeing is focusing on so-called second-generation biofuels, which would be more environmentally friendly, Glover said. Algae has the "highest yield potential," he said. Oil from Babassu nuts -- grown in South America -- and the hardy Jatropha bush also are being considered.

He figures biofuels would start out at low percentage blends at first due to limited availability. And he also noted that biofuels have already been introduced in ground transport.

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