Continental tests algae-based jet fuel

Continental Airline is the first American airline to explore biofuels for its planes, successfully completing a two-hour test flight near Houston on Wednesday. The fuel -- half kerosene, half a mix of jatropha (an "African weedy shrub") and algae -- is a promising alternative to entirely petroleum-derived fuels, which the airline industry burns up at a rate of 240 million gallons per day, because its plant-based ingredients don't compete with food crops. The next test, by Japan Airlines on January 30, will try out a biofuel made from camelina; last week Air New Zealand became the world's first carrier to test-drive planes powered by fuels that use jatropha. While an exciting development, it'll take a decade or so before bio-jetfuel makes up a significant percentage of all airline fuels.

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