Wild Green Yonder: Flying the Environmentally Friendly Skies on Alternative Fuels

From liquid coal to biofuels, military and commercial aviators are searching for domestically sourced, cost-effective and clean alternatives to petroleum-derived jet fuel
1 of 8

Virgin Flight

Early in 2008, Virgin Atlantic plans to become the first airline to test biofuels in one engine of a Boeing 747, like the one pictured here.....[ More ]

Ground Test

Boeing lab technician Tom Plank conducts fuel-stability tests to identify suitable biofuels that can substitute directly for existing petroleum-based jet fuel.....[ More ]

Green Fuel

A Honeywell UOP technician holds a vial of the company's "green fuel"—a diesel equivalent that actually delivers more power and can be made from a variety of oils.....[ More ]

Soy Fuel

Soybeans can produce as much as 60 gallons of vegetable oil per acre, but that's nowhere near enough to replace even a fraction of fuel use by jets.....[ More ]

BioJet 1

An unmodified Czech fighter jet reached 17,000 feet (5,180 meters) on 100 percent biodiesel, thanks to fuel heaters that kept the former canola oil from gelling.....[ More ]

Ethanol Airplane

Ethanol can be used in piston-engine propeller planes, such as the Piper Pawnee pictured here—the first such aircraft to use the biofuel.....[ More ]

Cleaner Bomber

The B-52 bomber has become the first airplane to be fully certified to fly with Fischer-Tropsch synthetic fuels, which burn more cleanly than petroleum-derived jet fuel.....[ More ]

Coal-Fueled C-17

The C-17 transport plane pictured here is the first to fly across the continental United States on a blend of regular jet fuel and chemically processed coal jet fuel.....[ More ]

risk free title graphic

YES! Send me a free issue of Scientific American with no obligation to continue the subscription. If I like it, I will be billed for the one-year subscription.

cover image Subscribe Now
Share this Article:

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription
as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >


Email this Article