Used cooking grease fuels jet

Airplane makes cross-country trip fueled in part by used cooking grease.

Last November an Alaskan Airlines jet flew from Seattle to Washington D.C. powered in part by recycled cooking oil.

The airline company tested a blend of cooking grease and conventional aircraft fuel on 75 flights in an effort to find a viable alternative to traditional petroleum-based fuel.

Although kitchen grease is more environmentally friendly than traditional fuel, the results of the test flights show it is not yet practical because of a low supply and a high price.

Irene Klotz reported for Discovery News:

"Even pulling off 75 flights required some creative - and expensive - logistics. There wasn't enough used cooking oil and restaurant grease on the west coast, so a supplier tapped restaurants in the south, which apparently has a heartier business in frying foods."

And the alternative fuel cost $17 a gallon, nearly six times as much as petroleum-based fuel.

But this is only the beginning of thinking about aircraft fuel alternatives. Aircraft manufacturers are working on a variety of environmental strategies to help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Continental Airlines has already flown a Boeing 737 powered by algae-based biofuel and Lufthansa has been using a 50/50 mixture of conventional fuel and biofuel on its flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt since last July.

Greasing the Jets with French Fry Oil [Discovery News]

Photo: Sean MacEntee/Flickr

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