KL M Proposes to Power Planes With Algae

KLM.jpgThis has all the risks of being one of those hair-brained ideas thrown together to get attention and then amounting to being less than spectacular: KLM has partnered with a firm called AlgaeLink to produce an aviation fuel derived from Algae.
According to Radio Netherlands:

The Dutch carrier says if all goes according to plan 12 Fokker-50 planes – representing seven percent of KLM’s fleet – will fly on fuel derived from algae by 2010.

Most likely, the planes will be powered by a blend of fuels, though according to AlgaeLink (PDF here), KLM has every intention of running the 12 Fokkers on 100% biofuel.


fokker50.jpgAt this point one has to give both companies the benefit of the doubt and a nice round of kudos for giving something radically new a try. Biofuels of the type being developed are theoretically carbon nuetral, don’t compete with foodstocks, and should be relatively cheap. Whether or not they offer the performance of traditional aviation fuel remains to be seen, as does their actual large scale implementation. Nonetheless, it’s a nice second step from Richard Branson’s coconut powered Virgin Atlantic flight earlier this year.
KLM has a well designed website on CSR focused on sustainable air transport, but as of this writing, does not discuss the algae project.
(As long as I’m being critical, calling 12 Fokkers 7% of KLM’s fleet is a bit of a stretch – even if they represent 12% of the actual aircraft, the majority of their fleet is made up of massive widebodies which make the fokkers’ emissions seem a pittance. But now I”m getting really picky)

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

5 responses

  1. This is not right. KLM announced a study to look for the possibilities to fly on algae-biofuell.
    There figures about use of kerosine are knonw. The Algeae company is trying to set up a production facility for 300.000 litres. That’s nothing.
    Greenwashing !!!!!!!!!

  2. Both of you guys are way off base here! Where do you think alga from comes? Algae! What is so funny or weird about having aircraft that run on algae derived fuel. KLM has contracted Algae Link to set up plants to make algae kerosine. Why do you think that this is a pipe dream when probably in your lifetime, unless you are a 100 or over, your car will run on algae and algae will light your home? Actually that is already happening but I am not talking about algae that is older than your fossilized brain, but new algae that is going to grow by cleaning up your human excrement and eating the CO2 you have been polluting our atmosphere with!
    Hair-brained idea?

  3. Ok – I shouldn’t have called it hair-brained, as it’s definitely a good idea. The reason I’m skeptical is that it’s not mentioned anywhere on KLMs website, nor or any official KLM press release, only a few small news outlets and on Algae Link’s page, which is a fairly amateur looking website (no offense to what are probably brilliant people working on the problem). I’d like to see an official KLM statement and goal before I get excited!

  4. It is interesting to note that Algae Link’s PBR is nearly identical to one which I developed and built in 1993 and I have a video of the system in operation to prove it.
    Its a far stretch to believe that the infra structure required to support such a massive fuel requirement could be assembled in such a short period of time. Maybe 2025 might be more realistic.
    I welcome questions an remarks. I am even more open to potential investment and I have the expereince of actually doing my homework.
    I am currently involved in a microalgae to hydrogen gas production facility which produces 2 liters of H2 at std atm pres and temp per 100% algae populated liter of media per hour.

  5. It is interesting to note that Algae Link’s PBR is nearly identical to one which I developed and built in 1993 and I have a video of the system in operation to prove it.
    Its a far stretch to believe that the infra structure required to support such a massive fuel requirement could be assembled in such a short period of time. Maybe 2025 might be more realistic.
    I welcome questions an remarks. I am even more open to potential investment and I have the expereince of actually doing my homework.
    I am currently involved in a microalgae to hydrogen gas production facility which produces 2 liters of H2 at std atm pres and temp per 100% algae populated liter of media per hour.

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