Oil from humble saltwater plant blended with jet fuel on Etihad Airways flight

Flying is incredibly carbon intensive, and jet fuel is hard to replace.

Enlarge / Glasswort bush (Salicornia europaea), Chenopodiaceae. (credit: De Agostini/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, an Etihad Airways Boeing 787 in Abu Dhabi embarked on a roughly seven-hour flight to Amsterdam with its tank full of a mixture of jet fuel and biofuel. The biofuel was derived from oil pressed out of Salicornia plants, which require saltwater to grow.

Gulf News reported that a full 50 percent of the jet fuel needed to take the plane to its destination was biofuel, which is an extraordinarily high ratio of biofuel to jet fuel, if this report is correct. Ars contacted Etihad Airways to confirm this number, and we will update the story when we receive a response.

Previous notable flights using biofuel have included a Qantas flight that used a 10-percent blend of mustard seed oil, a Virgin Atlantic flight that used a 5-percent blend of fuel made from industrial waste gas, an Alaska Airlines flight that used a 20-percent blend of fuel made from waste wood from Pacific Northwest timber harvests, and a series of United Airlines flights that used a 30-percent blend of biofuel from various sources.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Boom Supersonic nabs $100M to build its Mach 2.2 commercial airliner

One Denver-based startup’s long-shot bid to move today’s commercial jets beyond supersonic speeds just got a big injection of cash. Boom Supersonic, which is building and designing what it calls the “world’s first economically viable supersonic airliner,” announced today that they’ve closed a $100 million Series B funding round led by Emerson Capital. Other investors […]

One Denver-based startup’s long-shot bid to move today’s commercial jets beyond supersonic speeds just got a big injection of cash.

Boom Supersonic, which is building and designing what it calls the “world’s first economically viable supersonic airliner,” announced today that they’ve closed a $100 million Series B funding round led by Emerson Capital. Other investors include Y Combinator Continuity, Caffeinated Capital, SV Angel, Sam Altman, Paul Graham, Ron Conway, Michael Marks and Greg McAdoo.

The startup has raised around $140 million to date. The team has about 100 employees, and hopes to double that number this year with its new funding.

“Today, the time and cost of long-distance travel prevent us from connecting with far-off people and places,” said Boom CEO Blake Scholl in a statement. “Overture fares will be similar to today’s business class—widening horizons for tens of millions of travelers. Ultimately, our goal is to make high-speed flight affordable to all.”

Alongside the fundraise, Boom is further detailing its plans to begin testing its Mach 2.2 commercial airliner this year. The company is aiming to launch a 1:3 scale prototype of its planned Overture airliner this year, called the XB-1. The two-seater plane will serve to validate the technologies being built for the full-sized jet.

The startup’s supersonic Overture jet will hold 55 passengers, and the team hopes that the costs of flying more than double the speed of sound will be comparable to today’s business-class ticket prices. The company already has pre-orders from Virgin Group and Japan Airlines for 30 airliners.

Indeed, $100 million may seem like a lot of money, but the development costs for lengthy projects like these can quickly race toward the billions of dollars, suggesting that if they carry out their mission, they’re going to need a whole lot more.