|By PR Newswire||
|January 7, 2009 12:15 PM EST||
"This demonstration flight represents another step in Continental's ongoing commitment to fuel efficiency and environmental responsibility," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
The biofuel blend includes components derived from algae and jatropha plants, both sustainable, second-generation sources that do not impact food crops or water resources or contribute to deforestation. The algae oil has been provided by Sapphire Energy, and the jatropha oil by Terasol Energy. This is the first time a commercial carrier will power a flight using fuel derived in part from algae.
Continental's Boeing 737-800, tail number 516, will depart from and return to Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport operating under a specially-issued "Experimental" aircraft type certificate, and will carry no passengers.
During the flight, which will last approximately two hours, Continental test pilots will engage the aircraft in a number of normal and non-normal flight maneuvers, such as mid-flight engine shutdown and re-start, and power accelerations and decelerations. A Continental engineer will record flight data onboard.
The flight will operate with a biofuel blend, which consists of 50 percent biologically-derived fuel and 50 percent traditional jet fuel, in the No. 2 engine. This biofuel blend will result in a significant net decrease in carbon emissions relative to traditional jet fuel, as both jatropha and algae consume carbon during their lifecycles.
The aircraft's No. 1 engine will operate on 100 percent traditional jet fuel, allowing Continental to compare performance between the biofuel blend and traditional fuel. As Continental has worked with Boeing, GE Aviation/CFM and UOP for more than nine months to carefully evaluate and test the biofuel in engines on the ground, no difference in performance is expected.
The biofuel is a "drop-in" fuel, and no modifications to the aircraft or engine are necessary for the flight to operate. The biofuel meets and exceeds specifications necessary for jet fuel, including a flash point and a freezing point appropriate for use in aircraft.
Following the flight, Continental will participate with its partners in post-flight engine analysis to ensure that the effect on the engine and aircraft, in addition to performance, is substantively no different between biofuel and traditional fuel.
"Through their leadership Continental Airlines is helping aviation pioneer a greener, more diverse fuel supply for the future," said
"UOP's goal with renewable technology is to produce real fuels that perform as well as or better than their petroleum-based alternatives and that leverage the existing fuel infrastructure and fleet technology to lower capital costs and simplify adoption," said General Manager of UOP Renewable Energy and Chemicals Jennifer Holmgren. "With our proven technology and the commitment of aviation leaders like Continental and Boeing, sustainable biofuels for aviation are a real near-term option. We believe that production levels could reach hundreds of millions of gallons per year by 2012."
"We still have a lot of work to do in terms testing various biofuels but we are very pleased with, and encouraged by, the results we have achieved to date," said
"The simple combination of sunlight, CO2 and algae to produce a carbon-neutral, renewable fuel source has the potential to profoundly change the petrochemical landscape forever," said
"We are excited to be pioneering the development of bio-based jet fuels along with Continental Airlines," said Sanjay Pingle, president, Terasol Energy. "Jatropha is one of several next generation fuel sources that we are working on in order to develop sustainable, scalable and renewable alternatives to petroleum-based products."
Continental has a company-wide commitment to environmental responsibility. On average, Continental burns approximately 18 gallons of fuel to fly one mainline revenue passenger 1,000 miles, which represents a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption since 1997. This is due in large part to the efforts of its employees in streamlining operational procedures and to an investment of more than
Continental has also reduced, by 75 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions from ground equipment at the carrier's largest hub in
Through these investments and other projects, including the construction of airport facilities in an environmentally responsible manner, the testing of alternative fuels in ground service equipment, offering a credible carbon offsetting program based on the actual fuel burn of the Continental fleet, and an expansive recycling program, Continental will continue to manage the environmental impact of its business.
Continental Airlines is the world's fifth largest airline. Continental, together with Continental Express and Continental Connection, has more than 2,500 daily departures throughout the Americas,
Continental consistently earns awards and critical acclaim for both its operation and its corporate culture. For the fifth consecutive year, FORTUNE magazine named Continental the No. 1 World's Most Admired Airline on its 2008 list of World's Most Admired Companies. For more company information, go to continental.com.
SOURCE Continental Airlines
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