Diamond Aircraft Industries and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) have teamed to fly a Diamond DA42 NG on algae-derived biofuel. The DA42 NG, which is equipped with a pair of Jet-A-burning Austro Engine AE300 engines, was recently flown at the ILA 2010 airshow in Berlin using the new fuel. The result, Diamond and EADS say, was performance equal to that experienced using Jet-A fuel—but a reduction in fuel burn of approximately 1.5 liters (about 1.6 quarts) per hour.
Only minor modifications and adjustments had to be made to the DA42’s engines in order for the airplane to use the biofuel during the demonstration flights.
EADS, even though it is not directly involved in fuel production, has been pursuing research for a suitable alternative to fossil fuels. The company believes that algae—more specifically, microalgae—is the most promising source. Microalgae grow rapidly by photosynthesis, absorb greenhouse gas emissions, and create 30 times more biomass volume per cultivation area than, for example, oilseeds such as rapeseed and canola seed. In addition, biofuel from algae has a significantly lower nitrogen and sulfur content compared to fossil fuels. This, in turn, means fewer emissions of those elements during combustion.
EADS is pursuing microalgae fuels as part of its commitment to the 2020 emissions goals set by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE). Those goals include carbon dioxide reductions of 50 percent, and nitrogen oxide reductions of 80 percent.