My favorite photosynthetic organism has finally made it to the bigtime. Continental Airlines announced yesterday that Sapphire Energy will supply algae-based biofuel for the first biofuel-powered test flight of a US commercial airliner next month.
Biofuel-based flights are a necessity for the suffering airline industry, as fuel makes up two-fifths of airlines' expenses.
Continental's passenger-less flight will use a mix of traditional jet fuel, jatropha-based fuel, and algae-based fuel.
Sapphire Energy is supplying algae from a Hawaiian firm called Cyanotech for the flight. The algae will be converted to fatty oils and refined before it heads to the Continental fuel tank.
A company called Terrasol will supply the jatropha-based biofuel.
While Continental's flight is a first for the US, Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to perform a biofuel-powered test flight. Last February, a Virgin Boeing 747-400 flew from London to Amsterdam using a mix of coconut and babbasu oil-based biofuel and traditional jet fuel.