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Algae to palm oil, Airlines Seeking Alternative Fuels

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Some interesting points:

1. The airline industry is aggressively pushing for homegrown alternatives to petroleum-based jet fuel to help control a projected $61 billion industrywide fuel expense this year.
2. Jet engines can be retrofitted to run on hydrogen, for example. But hydrogen does not pack the same punch as traditional jet fuel — kerosene — and would require airlines to buy planes designed with massive tanks.
3. The best bet right now for nonconventional fuel comes from South Africa, experts said. The country has powered its airline industry for a decade using a coal-based jet fuel blend developed by petrochemicals group Sasol.
4. Meanwhile, Boeing and Air New Zealand later this year will test a biofuel made from the oil-rich seeds of the jatropha tree. In February, Boeing partnered with Virgin Atlantic to test a flight that included a biofuel mixture of babassu oil, which comes from a palm tree in northern Brazil, and coconut oil.
5. And finally algae: Investors have pumped almost $84 million into companies developing algae-based fuel so far this year, up from $29 million in all of 2007, according to the Cleantech Group, an industry research firm…Yay Yay!
6. And the usual dampener: Despite its promise, it will be years before algae biofuel could be sold at a price that would make sense to an airline

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Nature gave us oil from algae; perhaps we should try Nature’s way again

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