Air France-KLM to fly on used cooking oil in September

Air France-KLM

Air-France-KLM airlines will soon be flying on used cooking oil. Image: FacemePLS/Flickr/CC BY

Next September, Air France-KLM, Europe’s largest airline, will begin using a mixture of kerosene and used cooking oil to fuel its planes. It will be a major step toward lessening the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Over 200 flights will use alternative fuels

Over 200 scheduled flights between Paris and Amsterdam will be the first to use the alternative fuel. Biokerosene, made from used cooking oil, is chemically almost identical to traditional kerosene. It will require absolutely no modification to the airliners, and will pose no added danger whatsoever. The fuel can be refined from a variety of sources, including vegetable oil, grease and animal fat.

‘Authorization will soon be granted’

Camiel Eurlings, managing director of Air France-KLM, is optimistic that biokerosene will change commercial flight:

“In November 2009 we demonstrated that it was technically possible to fly on biokerosene,” he said. “Now, a year and a half after our first demonstration flight on Camelina, a new phase has been entered around the world, that of certification. Authorization will soon be granted to operate commercial flights on biofuel.”

Government and industry incentives

In 2007, the International Air Transport Association set a goal to make all air travel emissions free of carbon dioxide by 2050. And last year, the French government announced a major renewable energy investment plan. The plan will include  $577 million in subsidies. Another $1.15 billion will be earmarked for low–interest loans to “cutting edge technology projects.”

On June 9, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which develops international standards for the construction, manufacturing and transportation industries, granted initial approval for airlines to use blends of traditional fuel and biofuels. The percentage of biokerosene to traditional kerosene that is to be used by Air France-KLM remains uncertain at this time.

Costs are still prohibitive

The largest obstacle to 100 percent use of biofuels, according to Eurlings, is still cost.

“The costs of biofuels need to come down substantially and permanently. This can be achieved through innovation, collaboration and the right legislation that stimulates biofuel in the airline industry — but with an eye on honest competition.”


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