Friday, November 18, 2005

Branson's bid for green air travel

Virgin Atlantic Airways boss Richard Branson said on Wednesday he plans to turn his back on hydrocarbons and use plants to power his fleet.

You can award him a prize for chutzpah for making his announcement in oil-rich Dubai ("who needs ya, baby?").

Branson said "We are looking for alternative fuel sources. We are going to start building cellulosic ethanol plants (to make) fuel that is derived from the waste product of the plant."

He said his combined fleet of nearly 100 aircraft "uses around 700 million gallons of fuel a year. I hope that over the next 5 to 6 years we can replace some or all of that (with ethanol)."

But The Low Carbon Kid will believe it when he sees it.

According to one pundit, to distill the 16% EtOh one gets from fermenting plant sugars (cellulose included) does not produce sufficiently energy-dense fuel to fly a plane.

Distilling plant sugars also requires an energy input - presumably from carbon-burning power plants.

If he wants bio-fuel why doesn't he burn the coconut oil (vegetable oil rather than distilled plant sugars) from his private island in his diesel-engined aeroplanes?

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