November 8, 2011

Continental Airlines Flies Plane Using Algae, Jet Fuel Blend

Flight 1403 Flew From Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport To Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Deb Stanley, 7NEWS Producer

Continental Airlines flew a commercial flight this week using advanced biofuels.

Flight 1403, a Boeing 737-800, flew from Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport to Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Monday.

The flight made United Continental Holdings the first U.S. airline to fly passengers using a blend of sustainable, advanced biofuel and traditional petroleum-derived jet fuel, officials said.

Algae-Derived Jet Fuel

Solazyme, working with Honeywell’s UOP process technology, developed the algae oil that was refined into jet fuel to power the Continental flight.

United Continental Holdings has signed a letter of intent with Solazyme to negotiate the purchase of 20 million gallons of jet fuel per year, for delivery as early as 2014.

Past Biofuel Flights

Continental tested a biofuel derived from algae and jatropha in 2009. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft used in that demonstration is the same aircraft used in Monday's test. In 2010, United conducted a flight using synthetic fuel made from natural gas.

Other Projects

  • United Continental Holdings said it has improved fuel efficiency by more than 32 percent since 1994. The company has ordered 132 new fuel-efficient aircraft.
  • The company said it is modifying existing aircraft with winglets, to improve fuel efficiency by up to 5 percent.
  • United and Continental operate more than 3,600 alternatively fueled or zero-emission ground service equipment vehicles, officials said.
  • The airline said it often uses ground equipment instead of aircraft engines to move aircraft from gate to gate.
  • During the last five years, the company said it recycled more than 20 million pounds of aluminum cans, plastic and paper items from waste generated in-flight and in its facilities.

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