Virgin Atlantic, the British airlines that's part of the multifaceted conglomerate The Virgin Group, with projects ranging from space exploration to transport solutions such as Hyperloop One system, is creating its own innovative impression in the industry.
Guided by its strong commitment to emissions reductions, the company recently announced its successful development of the world's most sustainable aviation fuel. And in a dramatic fashion, the fuel will be tested out next month on a transatlantic flight from Orlando, Florida to London Gatwick on one of the company's 747 jets.
A testing ground
The 7000km flight will serve as the perfect testing ground. To pull this off, Virgin Atlantic partnered with LanzaTech, a US-based company which uses innovative gas fermentation technology to recycle waste carbon produced at steel mills that exits their flue stacks.
Jet fuel is one of the many recycled products which can be created through this innovative process. The company's mission is to lay the foundation for a "‘carbon smart’ circular economy, where both gas providers and end users can choose to be resource efficient by recycling or 'sequestering' carbon into new products rather than making them from new fossil resources".
The UK government understands importance of waste feedstocks for flight to help decarbonize and create a #carbonsmart aviation sector. With @VirginAtlantic and partners we look forward to realizing a commercial ATJ facility in the UK #[email protected]://t.co/ABvbLqYhS6— LanzaTech (@LanzaTech) September 13, 2018
An impact for the aviation industry and beyond
Earlier in the year, the project was officially greenlighted, with LanzaTech securing funding from the UK government in the amount of £410K to move forward. At the time, Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Keeger expressed his high hopes for the initiative:
“At Virgin Atlantic, we’ve been committed to reducing our carbon emissions for more than a decade. Along with more efficient aircraft and operational procedures, we know sustainable aviation fuels are a key next step in this journey. As LanzaTech’s long-time partner, we’re excited to be able to support building commercial capacity in the UK, and look forward to our future flights being powered by this advanced, waste-based solution.”
Below is a video of former Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson championing the cause of carbon recycling:
What this all seems to indicate is that Virgin Atlantic is hoping to inspire change within the industry as a whole towards investment in and implemented use of more sustainable aviation fuel. UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling voiced his support for the project, highlighting its impact on the aviation industry as well as the carbon footprint of the UK and potentially other countries.
“This waste to jet fuel project has the potential to help transform the aviation industry by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the air quality around our country’s airports. Supporting important developments like this is just part of our work to help ensure our aviation sector is greener than ever, and we will explore further measures as part of our Aviation Strategy.”