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China, U.S. Companies Test-Fly Biofuel-Powered Plane

Fri, 10/28/2011 - 3:13am
The Associated Press

A jumbo jet powered by fuel made from oily nuts made a two-hour test flight Friday as part of a U.S.-Chinese renewable energy partnership.

The fuel, based on the oily nuts of the jatropha tree, is one of a series of research projects launched last year by the United States and China, the world's two biggest oil consumers. The two governments say they want the research to reduce pollution and spur the growth of new industries.

The fuel was developed by Boeing Co., Honewell UOP, Chinese oil company PetroChina Ltd. and Air China Ltd. They say a commercial biofuel should be available in three to five years.

Government and company officials watched as an Air China Boeing 747-400 powered by mix of half biofuel and half standard aviation fuel took off from the Beijing airport and flew for two hours before landing at the same field.

"This is a very important step. It is a milestone for the Chinese airline industry," said He Li, an Air China vice president. "It will help us a lot to reduce carbon emissions and provide us more choices for aviation fuel."

Boeing said earlier that the goal of the research is to develop biofuel that can be used in commercial jetliners with no engine modifications. The company said last year four test flights with biofuel had been flown in the United States.

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