epic fuels enables first-ever commercial flight with waste gases
October 3, 2018
EPIC Fuels provided expertise in fuel blending as well as technical and logistical support to Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech to enable the first-ever commercial flight using a unique blend of petroleum-based jet fuel and alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK) fuel produced from waste gases.
LanzaTech’s pioneering technology captures carbon-rich industrial waste gases such as those from steel mills and recycles them into ethanol. The ethanol, in turn, can be used for a variety of low carbon products, including being upgraded to ATJ-SPK, which can be blended into jet fuel.
Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech selected EPIC Fuels as a partner to ensure the project’s success based on EPIC’s extensive experience in both conventional and renewable fuels. In this landmark effort, EPIC provided support and expert knowledge in transportation, logistics, aircraft refueling equipment and on-site quality control and consultant support in both the blending and testing process prior to the flight as well as for the fueling operations at Orlando International Airport.
After blending traditional jet fuel with LanzaTech ATJ-SPK, the fuel mix was rigorously tested at a commercial jet fuel-testing laboratory. EPIC also worked with Menzies Aviation at Orlando International Airport (MCO) to ensure all requirements were met for both ASTM testing and airport operations for this fuel.
The results met the required specifications for ASTM 1655 jet fuel and were cleared for use on the historic flight onboard one of Virgin’s luxurious Boeing 747 aircraft. The first flight using this fuel was VA flight 16 from MCO to London Gatwick (LGW) on October 2.
“Today we make history by showing there is a new way to make low carbon fuels and to keep fossils in the ground,” said LanzaTech CEO, Jennifer Holmgren. “This flight is a real example of the circular economy in action, indeed we no longer have to imagine a day when a steel mill can make the steel for the plane and the fuel to power that plane by using its waste gases. Thanks to our partners around the globe we can show that reusing carbon is not a fantasy.”
“As a fuel provider, EPIC Fuels recognizes the need to find alternatives to petroleum-only based jet fuel,” said Kai Sorenson, Director of Commercial Sales for EPIC Fuels. “We’ve participated in multiple demonstration flights to identify and fast track technologies that can improve the environmental performance of aviation and gained unmatched experience with blending fuels.”
Over the last several years EPIC has provided both technical and logistic expertise in programs for sustainable fuel alternatives. Highlights include flights flown by Alaska Airlines in 2016 using a blend of sustainable produced from non-edible, sustainable corn and renewable sustainable fuel made from residual wood; Singapore Airlines’ first-ever flight powered by a blend of sustainable fuel made from used cooking oil and conventional jet fuel. In addition, EPIC has provided support for multiple Boeing ecoDemonstrator flights including a flight with U.S.-made “green diesel” sustainable fuel in June 2015 and Boeing’s first-ever flights using a green diesel blend during the ecoDemonstrator 787 flight test program in December 2014.