This Biofuel Plane Will Make the First Carbon-Free Flight Across the Atlantic
Flying isn't known for being the most earth-friendly mode of travel: One round-trip flight from New York to Europe adds about two to three tons of carbon dioxide to each passenger's carbon footprint. But as reported by Mashable, when Raphaël Dinelli makes his historic flight from New York to Paris aboard a biofuel plane in June, that figure will be practically zero.
Dinelli is a pilot, scientist, and founder of the alternative energy-focused company Laboratoire Océan Vital. The company's self-proclaimed "zero-emissions" plane, the Eraole, has been seven years in the making. The aircraft runs on an electric engine powered by solar cells panelling the wings, and a special biofuel made from micro algae takes over whenever sunlight's in short supply. The Eraole was built to be super lightweight, and 20 percent of its flying power comes from straight gliding alone.
Dinelli will face plenty of challenges after launching the world's first carbon-free transatlantic flight this summer. For one, the whole journey will last about 60 hours, making it even longer than Charles Lindbergh's historic flight across the Atlantic in 1927. The cabin won't be pressurized, so Dinelli will be running on 30 percent less oxygen than usual. And because the Eraole doesn't include an autopilot feature, he'll have to stay awake for the entire duration of the trip. Dinelli is less worried about sleep deprivation—something he learned to deal with during his 25 years as a solo sailor—than he is about leg room. The cockpit is so cramped that his mobility will be severely limited, impacting the blood flow to his legs.
Though the exact date of Dinelli's departure has yet to be announced, the plan is to take flight sometime in June of this year. If the journey is successful, a two-seat commercial version of the plane from the company may be soon to follow.