Mon 15 Oct 2007 – In a speech at a Mortgage Bankers Association conference in Boston, Sir Richard Branson told delegates that his Virgin Group is to conduct a Virgin Atlantic 747 passenger-less demo flight using renewable fuel early next year.
Virgin is developing biofuels in conjunction with Boeing and engine manufacturer GE Aviation and hopes to start producing clean biofuels by the beginning of the next decade.
Branson said that the better known biofuel Ethanol may be unsuitable for jet aircraft because it freezes at 15,000 feet, although measures could be put in place to alleviate the problem, and butanol may be a better option.
Air New Zealand is also attempting to carry out a test flight next year using a combination of biofuel and kerosene.
Branson has pledged to spend all the profits over the next ten years from his 51% stake in Virgin’s airline and rail businesses to fight global warming. He has created Virgin Fuels, which is investing $400 million over three years in renewable energy initiatives. The company has already invested $60m in a Californian venture that plans to make bioethanol from corn.
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