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Lufthansa is the first airline to use biofuel

Berlin. Lufthansa will test biofuel in flights from April 2011, becoming the world’s first airline to initiate a major experiment towards environment friendly aerospace combustion.

The airline will begin a six-month trial with an Airbus A321 on scheduled commercial flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Hamburg route. Pending certification, one of the aircraft’s two engines will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene.

This was announced at a recent press conference here by Lufthansa Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber, , Parliamentary State Secretary and Government Aerospace Coordinator Peter Hinze, and, Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Prof Johann-Dietrich Wörner.

The project is estimated to cost the airline approx 6.6 million euros, and is backed by the German government within the framework of its aviation research programme aimed at underpinning the sustain-ability of air traffic.

The primary purpose of the project is to conduct a long-term trial to study the effect of biofuel on engine maintenance and engine life. “During the six month trial, Lufthansa will save around 1,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions”, added Mayrhuber. This biofuel testing project is a successful example of integrating research efforts for the pur-pose of realising climate care objectives.

Prof Dr Johann-Dietrich Wörner explained the project background: “Our project is designed to research the long-term alterna-tives to conventional aviation jet fuel. The object is to gather data on pollutants from biofuel in comparison with conventional kerosene over a longer period.”

Notably, thanks to new technologies, Lufthansa has already improved its fuel efficiency by 30 per cent since 1991. Average fuel consumption per passenger is now down to 4.3 litres of kerosene over 100 kilometres.

Lufthansa is currently making intensive preparations for the practical tests. Aside from the actual research project, the acquisition of biofuel in sufficient volume and the complex logistics it involves is proving a challenge in the run-up to the trial. “We know that biofuel is an issue we must address carefully. We can see the opportunities this fuel offers and give serious attention to the debate on the requisite raw materials. But we first want to acquire ex-perience in daily practice in the use of biofuels. We are doing pioneering work in that no other airline to date has operated an aircraft engine with biofuel over a longer term,” observed Wolfgang Mayrhuber.

“Our fuel is sustainable. No rain forest will be deforested for Lufthansa biofuel. In the procurement of biofuel, we ensure it originates from a sustainable supply and production process. Our licensed suppliers must provide proof of the sustainability of their processes.”

The use of biofuel is one element in a four-pillar strategy aimed at reducing overall emissions in air traffic, according to a company press statement.

Ambitious environmental goals can only be achieved in future with a combination of various measures, like ongoing fleet renewal, operational measures such as engine washing and infrastructural improvements. Projects dedicated to these themes are also underway under the aegis of the aviation research programme.

© India Strategic