back to article Virgin exhibits coconut-powered flying jumbo

Bearded biz kingpin Richard Branson oversaw a successful trial of a Virgin 747 partially powered by biofuel blends yesterday, but was forced to admit that the fuel used on this occasion probably couldn't offer a clean green future for airlines. As had been anticipated, the joint trial by Boeing and Virgin on Sunday saw a jumbo …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Paul Kinsler

    same old dynamics?

    > However, the same old dynamics of every green-technology issue

    > are present. A shift away from the stored power of fossil fuel tends

    > to mean a need for power somewhere else - in the biofuel plant, in

    > the desalinators to produce fresh water for the algae ponds.

    This is actually the whole bloody /point/ of biofuels; i.e. to shift energy requirements away from fossil carbon. We do indeed have to take into account the energy requirements of biofuel production and distribution when estimating their viability. So what? This is utterly unremarkable.

  2. Michael

    Coconut powered Jumbo?????

    Couple pf points about this

    1. Should said jumbo be painted white?

    2. Are the coconuts , which aren't grown in a temperate but a subtropical climate, transported to europe by swallows ,( and if so, which type ..african or european?)

    3.What do the residents of heathrow think of the emmissions from the exhaust?

    Remember ...perry oaks sewage plant is near heathrow...coconuts should smell nice)

    4. Will it cause the engines to lose power?

  3. Anonymous Coward


    At last! An article with a bit of sceptism! Some of the stories in the traditional media...gawd help me..

    Let me see...1 engine out of 4, running 20% biofuel. Environmental saving? 5%. Or diddly-squat to neglible in other words, depending on how rose-tinted your glasses are when you look at holistics of biofuels. Even the broadsheets got sucked in with this one. Bet the bloody thing was empty when they flew it too. Bunch of bollox if you ask me.

    Credit where credit due - he is at least making a show of doing something by diving all profits from his aviation arm into renewables. It'll be as successful as making a vegan out of a lion in the end though.

  4. Michael

    Just another thought...

    Anybody thought about the idea floated (sorry) about dirigibles ferrying hydrogen from iceland? Thought i'd throw that in the mix

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A better power source is...

    ...nuclear fusion. Instead of spending Billions on war and banks with dodgy business practices, spend it on fusion research, get fusion working and there'll be ample power for desalination of water for algae ponds, or electricity to your electric car or whatever else you want.

  6. amanfromMars Silver badge

    We're all going crazy now, are we?

    Now who would have thought that that article title.... Virgin exhibits coconut-powered flying jumbo" ... would have made Perfect Sense to All? :-)

    Nice one, Lewis.

    And IT is getting tantalisingly close to FlowurPower2, is it not? Knights of Virgin Virtualised Realms Territory, Sir Richard?

    Wannabe AIMasterPilot in ITs Fleet Flight, Novel Noble Knight, or do you Prefer to be Grounded and Surrounded by Earthly Trappings rather than Heavenly Delights? :-)

    A Tough Call, that one, ma cherie .........not.

  7. michael

    they allways need power

    any fule carried by anything is just a way of storing power wjhat we need is a cleen mass power genration plan I am still hopeing for fusion

  8. Colin Millar

    Coconut airways?

    Totally Tropical IPR lawsuit coming up.

    The only realistic way to reduce airline emissions in the timescales set out by the climate change studies is to reduce flights radically.

  9. Mark

    No use for aircraft...

    ...Coconuts are non-migratory

  10. Snake Plissken

    So basically,

    Since when did a reduction in emissions become a Bad Thing?

    No wonder I told Greenpeace to shove it a few years ago.

  11. Tom

    Mr. Fussion

    Where are you!!

  12. Ian Moore

    Nuclear Fusion

    already works perfectly.

    Although, it is best to keep your free, easily maintained, 24/7 available, long lasting fusion reactor about 90 million miles away from your planet.

  13. Andy Livingstone

    Watch for Top of the Pops this weekend.

    Special edition featuring Richard Branson and Michael Winner with that old favourite "Coconut Airways"

  14. A J Stiles
    Paris Hilton

    Missing the point a little

    Only one of the four engines was running on biofuel, and even then it was a mix containing 20% biofuel and 80% fossil fuel. So that's 5% biofuel.

    Factor in that the plane wasn't even carrying any passengers, and it looks as though the test (did anybody really, seriously expect it NOT to work?) has ended up doing more harm than good.

    Anyway, of course algae are effective at drawing CO2 out of the air. They're mostly carbon, for crying out loud ..... where do you think they get the carbon from that they're made of?

  15. Chris Miller

    Nothing to see here

    Rather like diesels, jet turbines are remarkably unfussy about their fuel - you could probably get them to turn using waste fat from your local burger bar. So the fact that the flight was successful is no great surprise.

    The tricky bit is stopping your fuel turning to solid wax in the tanks while cruising 10km up, where air temperatures are typically -50 to -70 C (which /might/ have been a factor in the 777 crash at Heathrow). But a 50 minute hop from London to Amsterdam does nothing to show whether this will be a problem or not. Let's hope the Air NZ flight will be of longer duration.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    This is so frickin' awesome

    Nothing would please me more than to be able to fly to some tropical country on holiday and burn up half their food supply in the process.

  17. davenewman
    Thumb Up

    Agroforestry for food and fuel on the same land

    Biofuels do not need to replace food crops, provided you either use by-products (e.g. bagasse or straw) or use agroforestry, where different crops grow on the same land. Agroforestry uses more labour, so farmers in the US mid-west cannot do it, but plenty of farmers in the South can.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    "Now who would have thought that that article title.... Virgin exhibits coconut-powered flying jumbo" ... would have made Perfect Sense to All? :-)"

    LOL! I actually spit my coffee out of my nose when I read that. Well done!

  19. Herby Silver badge

    Re: Mr. Fussion

    Well, doesn't everyone have one??

    Should arrive on the market sometime around 2015 or so. It will solve all those silly global warming things, and make everything nice and cozy.

  20. StopthePropaganda
    Thumb Down

    the real reason Greens hate biofuel

    is that it allows people to maintain their prosperous and comfortable lives. It doen't force them into easily controlled agro enclaves or high rise warrens. the true purpose of the Green movement is propaganda to get Western Society to weaken itself. Biofuels don't cause weakening...except for those who hate the West but depend on it's agricultural output to appease their own people.

    First, it was "carbon monoxide" and "global ice age"..then gasoline engines and direct injection diesels (with sulfur free fuel) came along. The old excuses didn't work anymore. So they went for "carbon dioxide" (produced by all life forms except for clorophyll based ones) since everyone and everything is "guilty" of making it and "global warming" to make fears of deserts removing agro capability.

    Jets and bombers can run biofuels really easily, which doesn't help the propagandist enemies of western civilization. So it must be smeared, ridiculed, rejected, and demonized-before a way is developed that addresses the land requirement. Nuclear desalinization plants plus algae-derived biofuels minus oil-funded (royal) families (out for world religious domination) = continued transportation infrastructure and military supremacy for western societies (or *any* societies) with independence from geographically locked fossil sources.

    And those poor peak-oil guys would lose relevance too. Waaaah. My heart bleeds. Go make another "the end is nigh!" sandwich board, and try to be amusing this time.

    Wouldn't want Americans driving around in big cars, happy with big houses, safe behind a strong military, becoming carbon neutral and not needing or caring about unstable governments because of their oil resources, now would we? That's only for The Elite and Old Money and Royalty, right?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    A question and THE answer

    The important question: did the pilot manage to perform a wheels-up flypast 30ft off the ground?

    The answer to all power needs? We need to go back to 1985, ask the Doc to go to the future and bring back lots of Mr Fusion (or was it Mr Fission?) units, then have those generating power! Simple.


  22. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Hasnt anyone heard of a technology demonstrator

    Sure it wasnt made from algal biofuels, sure there was no-one on board, and sure everyone can say of course it was going to work. But had anyone actually done it before - NO!

    Sure, an aircraft should fly but it still took 100's of years for the first one to be made and another hundred years to get to where we are now!

    This is just the first step, and i say congrats Mr Branson. You've put at risk (and until something is done for the first time there is still a risk no matter how much mitigation you put in) a £100 million aircraft to try out a technology which when fully functioning may reduce emissions from aircraft by a significant percentage.

    Congrats on taking that first step.

  23. Sooner Boomer


    "...Coconuts are non-migratory"

    (obMonty Python)

    GUARD #1: Are you suggesting coconuts are migratory?

    ARTHUR: Not at all, they could be carried.

    The question IS: African or European swallows?

  24. Perpetual Cyclist


    Branson acknowledges peak oil

    “Apart from global warming, in about four or five years’ time there’s going to be more demand for fuel than there is fuel on this planet. So fuel prices will go through the roof, and so planes, ships, we’ve all got to come up with alternatives”.

    Fresh records for price of wheat

    Antarctic glaciers surge to ocean

    Of course, being the land of the free (market), the US still exports food to the highest bidder, unlike China, India, etc. who have stopped exports to feed their own people. (Lucky for us in the UK)

    All through the Irish potato famine, the English landlords exported large quantities of potatoes....

  25. William Bronze badge

    RE: But wait to the throttling kicks in.

    Its all very well, but watch the pilots face as Virgin begin throttling between peak hours.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019