On Wednesday, a Virgin Atlantic commercial flight was successfully flown using only waste carbon gas to become the first Boeing 747 powered by new sustainable aviation fuel. The plane flew from Orlando, Florida to London’s Gatwick airport and was marshaled by Richard Branson.
After the flight was complete, Branson celebrated the voyage calling in “aviation history.”
“I was so proud to marshal the 747 into Gatwick and thank our team and customers for being a part of making aviation history,” Branson said in a blog post. “There was rapturous applause from the passengers and the crew – I could tell everyone was as excited as I was by the enormous potential of this new technology.”
The fuel, which was produced by Chicago-based LanzaTech in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Lab, is a “blend of conventional jet fuel and ethanol produced waste emissions,” EcoWatch reported.
“The LanzaTech process is so exciting because this fuel takes waste, carbon-rich gases that would otherwise go up the chimneys of steel and aluminium mills and gives them a second life – so that new fossil fuels don’t have to be taken out of the ground,” Branson said in a blog post. “It’s incredible that the factories can make the steel for the planes and then the waste product can be used to power the plane. This is a great opportunity for UK industry as it supports our steel mills while also carbonizing them”
LanzaTech is capable of producing of 125 million gallons of fuel in the U.K. per year, which would be efficient for 100 percent of Virgin Atlantic flights from the U.K., Virgin Atlantic reported.
“Reducing carbon is a major priority at Virgin Atlantic – we’ve already taken a number of steps to reduce CO2 emissions, but this flight is a huge step in making this new technology a mainstream reality,” Branson said in a blog post. “There is no immediate replacement for long haul travel – and this technology is ready now and would have a significant impact on our carbon footprint.”
Now Branson is calling on the U.K. government to support the “ground-breaking new tech” and turn it into a reality by securing the “world’s first carbon capture and utilization (CCU) commercial jet fuel production facility.”
“I want to say a big thank you to all our partners who made today’s flight possible and showed we’re ready for business,” Branson said.