Weed-powered airplane about to get high

Pax Arcana

planeYou may remember when we posted about jatropha, the wild growing weed that some energy scientists say is a good bet for mass-production of a reliable biofuel.

OK, you probably don’t remember that at all. Hell, I didn’t remember it until I did a Google search for “jatropha” and this Web site was listed among the results. There it  was — a whole post about the freaky weed with my name on it — and still I don’t remember writing it.

I guess an addiction to huffing spray paint really is a bad thing.

Anyway, according to the Tech Review, a Boeing 747 owned by Air New Zealand is set to be the first aircraft to test the new fuel. The first flight is set for December 3.

While other planes have flown on biofuels before, jatropha offers several advantages over other sources:

Unlike many other biofuels, UOP’s jatropha jet fuel can replace conventional fuel without requiring changes to existing engines. Indeed, by several measures, the fuel is better than conventional jet fuel. It has a lower freezing point and can be exposed to higher temperatures onboard a plane without degrading. It also contains slightly more energy than conventional jet fuel, so a plane powered by jatropha could travel farther.

Also, jatropha plants are inedible — which is good for farmers worried about the government subsidizing competition — and scrub the atmosphere of carbon dioxide.

Also, you can put your weeeeed in it. OK I guess that doesn’t make any sense.

A Weed-Powered Passenger Jet [Tech Review]


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