Monday, October 22, 2007
The announcement came shortly after Boeing and Air New Zealand announced similar tests, also set for 2008, on algae-related/kerosene biofuel. Branson, however, who heads Virgin, hopes to beat them to the punch. Virgin is also working with Boeing as well as General Electric. Branson has pledged to devote all profits for the next decade from his stake in Virgin’s airline and rail companies. As part of the pledge, the profits from his 51 percent stake has led to the creation of Virgin Fuels, set to invest $400 million in the next few years on renewable energy.
Despite the popularity and promise of bio-fuels, the market has not caught up with production and grain producers are complaining their return on investment is dropping dramatically to the point they are not making money, driving many out of the business. They say what is needed is new distribution systems as well as more cars able to use the fuel.
Branson is concerned about jet use of ethanol, produced in the U.S. from corn and in Brazil from sugar case, owing to the fact it freezes at 15,000 feet and is highly corrosive, preferring an alternative – pebutanol, which is similar to gas.