KLM launches biofuels joint venture

Washington DC
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Dutch operator KLM has formed a joint venture to develop sustainable biofuels after completing an alternative fuel-powered flight.

The carrier has joined forces with oil products and services company North Sea Petroleum and business development firm Spring Associates to form SkyEnergy, which is tasked with creating a commercially viable alternative jet fuel that does not jeopardize the food chain or cause deforestation or excessive water consumption.

"The conservation of biodiversity is, of course, also a precondition," KLM president and CEO Peter Hartman says in a statement.

Toward that end, the consortium will bring together "expertise and experience in legislation, ecology and technology", he says.

In addition, conservation group WWF, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund, will advise SkyEnergy about ecological matters.

Hartman calls for more action beyond the consortium and KLM's demonstration flight.

"Government, industry and society at large must now join forces to ensure that we quickly gain access to a continuous supply of biofuel," he says.

SkyTeam alliance member KLM today operated a Boeing 747 in which one engine ran on a 50:50 mix of a camelina-based biofuel and traditional kerosene.

Camelina is a flowering plant, which was also the main feedstock used in the biofuel that Japan Airlines (JAL) tested this January.

Jatropha and algae made up 16% of JAL's test blend, and camelina 84%. JAL used a mix of biofuel and kerosene to power one of its four engines on a 747-300.