Skip to Main Content U.S. Department of Energy
PNNL News Central

PNNL part of Virgin Atlantic Airlines' plan to fly on biofuels

News Release

September 14, 2016 Share This!

Issued by Virgin Atlantic
1 of 1

RICHLAND, Wash. — The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been working with industry partner, LanzaTech, to convert alcohols derived from captured carbon monoxide, a byproduct in the production of steel, into synthetic paraffinic kerosene, a non-fossil-based jet fuel. The technology not only provides a viable source of sustainable jet fuel but also reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere.

PNNL has licensed its catalytic conversion process to LanzaTech. During the second stage of their process, ethanol is run through a PNNL-developed catalyst that converts ethanol to jet fuel by removing the oxygen and combining hydrocarbons. To control the reactions, PNNL borrowed technology it developed to convert methanol to gasoline and created a new, specialized catalyst. The catalyst first removes water from the ethanol, leaving behind ethylene. The small ethylene hydrocarbons are then combined to form hydrocarbon chains large enough for jet fuel without forming aromatics that lead to sooting when burned. The fuel meets all the specifications required for use in commercial aviation — not an easy thing to do. Read more about Virgin Atlantic's flight plans here.

Tags: Energy, Environment, Fundamental Science, Emissions, Renewable Energy, Biofuel, Green Energy, Climate Science

PNNL LogoPacific Northwest National Laboratory is the nation's premier laboratory for scientific discovery in chemistry, earth sciences, and data analytics and for solutions to the nation's toughest challenges in energy resiliency and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

News Center

Multimedia

Additional Resources