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China Eastern tests flight using biofuel

[ 2013-04-25 10:57] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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China Eastern Airlines completed its first successful test flight of an aircraft powered by biofuel on Wednesday.

The company said it now plans to introduce biofuel for commercial flights to reduce carbon emissions, but it did not reveal a timetable.

"Biofuel-powered aircraft make our flights more environmentally friendly," said Captain Liu Zhimin, who piloted Wednesday's flight.

The jet, which used a palm oil biofuel made by China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, or Sinopec, Asia's largest oil refinery, flew for 85 minutes after taking off from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.

Liu said he performed several extreme maneuvers, including diving above 12,000 meters, but found no significant difference between the Sinopec biofuel and gasoline. The plane's left fuel tank was filled with gasoline to allow him to compare.

"The performance of the biofuel during the takeoff was powerful," the pilot added.

Sinopec is the first company in China to master the technology of turning palm oil and waste cooking oil into jet biofuel.

"We have developed two kinds of biofuel, palm oil and waste cooking oil, and the fuel we used during this flight was palm oil," said Huang Zhongwen, deputy director of publicity for Sinopec Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Co.

"We have the capability of turning waste cooking oil into jet fuel, although the cost will be higher than producing ordinary fuel," he said.

Waste cooking oil is dubbed gutter oil in China, as illicit oil producers have recycled waste oil collected from gutters behind restaurants. The oil, which contains carcinogenic substances, is harmful to human health.

The test flight opened up the possibility of using other types of biofuel, including those made from recycled gutter oil, for aviation purposes, said Zhao Xuebing, a lecturer specializing in bio-energy research at Tsinghua University.

But Zhao cast doubt on the commercial viability of biofuel for use in jets because the treatment process of producing biofuel will push the cost up higher than regular fuel refinery.

"I do not see biofuel being used widely in commercial flights in the next decade," Zhao said.

In October 2011, Air China became the nation's first carrier to test a flight partly powered by biofuel, the outcome of a collaboration between PetroChina and Honeywell UOP's Green Jet Fuel.

Honeywell has licensed its green diesel production technology to four producers in the US and Europe.

The first of those facilities is expected to begin producing fuel in May, the US-based conglomerate told China Daily.

Although bio feedstock is more expensive than oil, Honeywell expects costs to come down as investments are made to produce larger quantities of bio feedstock and the company achieves economies of scale.


1. What did China Eastern Airlines accomplish this week?

2. What did the jet run on?

3. How long was the test flight?


1. It completed its first successful test flight of an aircraft powered by biofuel.

2. A palm oil biofuel made by China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, or Sinopec.

3. 85 minutes after takeoff.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

China Eastern tests flight using biofuel

About the broadcaster:

China Eastern tests flight using biofuel

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.