Germany leads with “seeded” Cars and Biofuels in The Air
As Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe’s second-biggest airline, plans to be the first carrier to test biofuels on regular passenger flights as the industry seeks ways to lower carbon-dioxide emissions and save on fuel purchases, the German car maker Mercedes has unveiled at the Los Angeles Motor Show a concept design car taking its inspiration from nature. The designers of the BIOME see their concept as fully integrated into the ecosystem, from the moment of its creation right through to the end of its service life.
By Cornelius Rahn for Bloomberg (29 November 2010):
Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe’s second-biggest airline, plans to be the first carrier to test biofuels on regular passenger flights as the industry seeks ways to lower carbon-dioxide emissions and save on fuel purchases.
Kerosene derived from plant oils will make up 50 percent of the fuel mix for one engine on an Airbus SAS A321 airliner flying on the Hamburg-Frankfurt route, Joachim Buse, head of Lufthansa’s aviation-biofuel program, told reporters today in Berlin. The program will begin in April and last for six months if approved by regulators, he said.
Carriers including British Airways Plc and Continental Airline Inc. are trying to curb emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming and have been making test flights powered by biofuels made from plants such as jatropha and carmelina. Cologne, Germany-based Lufthansa plans to use the fuels in its entire fleet by 2020 but won’t exceed a mix of 5 percent to 10 percent because of short supply, Buse said.
“We now have a fuel that combines reliable and powerful propulsion and which, unlike fossil fuels, has a positive CO2 balance,” Buse said. “It doesn’t look like we’ll have an alternative to combustion in jet engines for the next 40 to 50 years.”
Boeing Co., the world’s second-biggest maker of commercial aircraft, forecasts that airlines will derive 1 percent of their fuel from plants by 2015. Jet-fuel prices in northwest Europe have gained 20 percent since Aug. 24, Bloomberg data show. Lufthansa said on Oct. 28 that it expects expenses for fuel after hedging contracts to jump 15 percent in 2011 from a projected 5.2 billion euros ($6.8 billion) this year.
The bio-synthetic kerosene, which is produced by Espoo, Finland-based Neste Oil Oyj, is lighter and contains as much as 4 percent more energy than regular kerosene, Buse said. The test program will cost 6.6 million euros, of which Lufthansa will bear 4.1 million euros, he said.
Taking their inspiration from nature, the designers of the Mercedes BIOME see their concept as fully integrated into the ecosystem, from the moment of its creation right through to the end of its service life.
On the road the car emits pure oxygen, and at the end of its lifespan it can be simply composted or used as building material.
“As the inventor of the motor car, we wanted to illustrate the vision of the perfect vehicle of the future … It grows and thrives like the leaves on a tree,” according to Hubert Lee, Head of the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studios in Carlsbad.
The vehicle is made from an ultralight material called BioFibre and tips the scales at just 394 kilogrammes. The material is significantly lighter than metal or plastic, yet more robust than steel. BioFibre is grown from proprietary DNA in the Mercedes-Benz nursery, where it collects energy from the sun and stores it in a liquid chemical bond called BioNectar4534.
Without revealing much more detail, Mercedes said the car was powered by BioNectar4534, which is stored in the BioFibre material of the chassis, interior, and wheels. The car functions like a solar collector, designed to work like a leaf, and absorb solar energy while it is driving.