Biofuel To Power Lufthansa Commuter Flights

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Lufthansa will become the first airline to use biofuel on revenue flights, with a six-month trial that begins in April of 2011. The airline will use a 50-50 blend of Jet A and biodiesel on domestic routes during the trial period. The trial is being partly funded by the German government in a study of the long-term effects of biofuel use in commercial service. The same A321 will use the fuel blend as it plies the well-traveled Frankfurt-Hamburg route.

The jet will use fuel from Neste Oil, which is becoming a major player in the biofuel industry. With the addition of a plant in Singapore to make fuel from renewable palm oil, the company's annual production is expected to reach 600 million gallons next year. The aviation fuel is said to be a drop-in replacement for Jet A. But while Neste has the chemistry down, the economics remain a challenge. The biofuel is equivalent in cost to Jet A produced from oil at $140 a barrel, which it flirted with briefly in 2007. Crude is currently trading at about $90 a barrel.