Not enough biofuel – Lufthansa ends test trials

Lufthansa will halt it's biofuel test flights due to lack of sufficient biofuel stock

German airline carrier Lufthansa has announced it will end flight trials using biofuel due to its inability to tap into sufficient reliable supplies.

The company says it has used up its stocks of certified biofuel.

Last year, European airlines, biofuel producers and the EU Commission signed a pact aiming to produce 2 million tonnes of biofuel for aviation by the year 2020. The overall lack of industrial production, however, mans that only limited amounts are available.

Global production of biofuels has fallen

Apparently, for the first time in a decade, global production of biofuels has dropped. At the heart of the problem are two issues:

  • the rising cost of the feedstock for most biofuels, corn, sugar and vegetable oil
  • government subsidies for ethanol

The six-month biofuel trial between Frankfurt and Hamburg, which saw one engine of an Airbus A321 powered by a 50:50 blend of regular fuel and biofuel, had been a success, said Lufthansa project manager Joachim Buse.

Operating 1,187 biofuel flights, the airline’s initial calculations showed that their CO2 emissions were reduced by 1,471 tonnes.

Airplane contrails are evidence of CO2 emissions that need to be curbed

The company said the flight from Frankfurt to Washington would cut emissions by 38 tonnes, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of six scheduled flights between Frankfurt and Berlin.

As the saying goes, every solution creates new problems. Perhaps this one is equal to the issue raised in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy when he committed this country to sending a man to the moon by the end of the decade. At the heart of the problem was the fact that no fuel and insufficient technology existed at the time that would support his statement. With his commitment and inspiration,  the race was on to achieve what seemed impossible.

With major world airlines stating they intend to halve their carbon footprint  by 2050, looks like we need some real old-fashioned inspiration – and rock solid commitment – to solve this current problem.

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