back to article A380 superjumbo in natural-gas powered test flight

The world's largest passenger airliner, the Airbus A380, has successfully made a test flight using synthetic jet fuel partly made from natural gas. The test is the latest step in moves by airliner builders and operators to diversify the sources of their fuel supplies. Reuters reports that the monster double-decker superjumbo …

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Dead Vulture

Was this written in a hurry?

"The US Air Force, too, is working hard to shake off its current dependence on crude, too.

In future if now right now, there might be some prospect of carbon reductions..."

Well done.

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Boffin

Minor criticism

It's not analagous to Fischer-Tropsch synthesis - it IS Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. FTS is simply the process by which synthetic fuels are produced from a mixture of Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen (Syngas or Synthesis Gas) - where that mixture comes from is irrelevant. Coal, natural gas and biomass can all be gassified to produce syngas.

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Paris Hilton

Sounds like a Bushism to me...

"The US Air Force, too, is working hard to shake off its current dependence on crude, too.

In future if now right now, there might be some prospect of carbon reductions..."

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b

typo

if NOT right now..

couldn't you work that out?

it's just a 1 character-typo, nobody's perfect..chill out.

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Surely the article should be about the engines.

The A380 is powered by either Rolls-Royce Trent 900 or EA GP7000 engines, so was it the aircraft that needed no modifications to carry the fuel, or engines that needed no modifications to burn it?

It's quite a difference as the former implies that most modern Airbus aircraft could be fuelled this way, the latter implying that only one series of engines can run on a Natural Gas mixture.

</pedant>

I'm guessing that the power plant was Rolls-Royce seeing as it flew from Filton.

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Bronze badge

Paraffin

By any other name.

What would be the chances of getting a plane airborne on a mixture of Bunker Fuel and Hydrogen?

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Unhappy

Natural gas = side-product of oil?

Now I'm sure I remember my Dad telling me all them pretty little fires on top of all the oil drilling rigs in Bahrain were just burning off unwanted natural gas.... Looks to me like this will just enable the same unstable/unfriendly regimes in the Middle East to eek a bit more money out of their oilfields, just as soon as some willing oil company sells them the technology.

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Paris Hilton

"The A380 is powered by either Rolls-Royce Trent 900 or EA GP7000 engines"

I think the choice is down to the airline - airlines tend to buy 'domestic' engines, hence British Airways uses Rolls Royce, whereas few US carriers do. Despite the (petty) criticisms raised, its an interesting article.

Paris Hilton because I understand she produces a lot of gas...

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Silver badge

Clarification Information Please.

"The A380 is powered by either Rolls-Royce Trent 900 or EA GP7000 engines, so was it the aircraft that needed no modifications to carry the fuel, or engines that needed no modifications to burn it?

It's quite a difference as the former implies that most modern Airbus aircraft could be fuelled this way, the latter implying that only one series of engines can run on a Natural Gas mixture." ....... By John Bayly Posted Monday 4th February 2008 15:08 GMT

That was a leading question, John, and it would be "interesting" to know if both the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 and EA GP7000 engines and, presumably, any other jet engine can burn it as well.

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Alien

South Africa and Canada too

Hmm, South Africa has been producing synthetic fuel on a massive scale using Fisher Tropsch for more than half a century with coal and natural gas input and the Canadian oil sands is also cracked using similar processes licensed from South Africa.

Eventually synthetic fuel production will overtake simple distillation as the cheap oil runs out and we are forced to use the thick stuff that were previously only good for ships and road surfaces.

Where this is a problem though, is that the synthetix stuff which is largely methanol, tends to cause more engine corrosion.

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Silver badge
Joke

Phew no dodgy oil

Yes so much better not to rely on the dodgy oil states, best trust the Russian gas fields instead, as they provide 100% reliability (unless they don't like you of course).

Phew.

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@Matt Bryant

The flares you've seen on oil platforms are there as a safety measure in case of a sudden pressure spike elsewhere on the platform. If any part of the rig becomes overpressurised, the gas is sent to a flare stack where it can be burned safely. The flare is kept continuously burning much like a pilot light on a gas stove to prevent icing or debris getting into the stack.

Most operators are cutting back on flaring on production platforms as technology has improved and petroleum gas is now quite valuable. You'll continue to see it at oil refineries and exploration rigs for some time to come. IIRC the total amount of CO2 released from flaring all round the World is something like 1% of the total produced by Man - but one of the highlights of a long flight to the far East or over North Africa is to see the gas flares.

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Coat

Can I just ask.....

‘A380 superjumbo in natural-gas powered test flight’

Ermm, does it have a.... pilot-light ?

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Boffin

Reasoning

The engines don't need much, if any modification to run on the different fuel; after all there are variations on the same core engines flying in aircraft & powering ships as gas turbines.

I believe one of the main reasons for using GTL synthetic fuels is that they're much cleaner, for example no sulphur content.

There's also the possibility of extracting the feed stock from sources other than fossil, though volume would be a problem.

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Coat

Resource Management

I am beginning to see here a use for one of the by-products produced by the the worlds vegetarians via FTS

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Boffin

Jet Aircraft can run on DIesel

There is very little difference between Jet-A fuel and Diesel-1. Basically a slight viscosity difference and sulfur content

This difference is so slight that for extreme Arctic/Antarctic use a combined low temperature diesel/jet fuel called Diesel Fuel Arctic (DFA) was used to power all plant, vehicles and aircraft.

Jezza

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Paris Hilton

@South Africa and Canada too, By herman

"Eventually synthetic fuel production will overtake simple distillation as the cheap oil runs out and we are forced to use the thick stuff that were previously only good for ships and road surfaces."

So how far down the line after the oil has run out, do we see mining/re-cycling of the roads. Slap down that concrete and dig up that oil.

Talking of slapping, did I hear someone mention Paris.

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Linux

Great news for UK consumer gas prices, then...

...not :(

It's hard to imagine Boeing publicly doing these tests, given the likely effect on gas futures prices (and the Russian current account). Or is that too theoretical-conspiratorial?

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Dead Vulture

Excuse my gas

We have loads and loads of natural gas where I live. Free flights for all !!!

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jet fuel

It's really only otto-cycle engines that are extremely picky about what fuels will work. They depend on thier fuel vaporising in the intake tract. Pretty much every other kind of engine can work with a wide variety of liquid fuels. You can find find diesels, for example, running happily on everything from natural gas to filtered crude oil. With a continuous-combustion engine like a gas turbine, you really only need to worry about things like 'will it pump OK' and 'does the exhaust corrode the power turbine'. If it didn't congeal into wax at altitude, heating oil would likely work too.

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