By Kris Alingod

Amstelveen, Netherlands

Dutch carrier KLM on Wednesday said it would begin using used cooking oil for some of its flights. The announcement comes less than two years after the airline flew the first biokerosene-fueled passenger flight in Europe.

Used cooking oil from factories and hotels will fuel KLM flights between Amsterdam and Paris beginning September. According to the airline, the fuel will meet the same technical specifications as those of conventional kerosene. No changes to engines or aircraft infrastructure will be required to use the new fuel.

Approval for the use of biofuel in aviation is expected soon in Europe. KLM, the world's oldest airline operating under its original name, hopes the move will result in a positive recommendation from the Sustainability Board of the Netherlands.

KLM launched the first plane powered with biokerosene on the continent in November 2009 when it flew a select group of passengers with one engine running on 50 percent used cooking oil and 50 percent aviation kerosene.

Other carriers are similarly exploring the use of biofuels to improve sustainability and lower carbon emissions.

Continental, Japan Airlines and Virgin Atlantic are among those that have tried using fuel sustainably made from sources such as algae, coconut oil and jatropha.

Brazilian airline TAM partnered with Airbus last year to become the first to fly a biokerosene-fueled plane in Latin America.

KLM's biokerosene is supplied by SkyNRG and made by Dynamic Fuels, a United States-based joint-venture of Tyson Foods and Syntroleum Corp.

Dynamic Fuels operates a plant in Louisiana that is recognized as the first U.S. industrial-scale production facility for biofuels. The company makes fuel from animal fats such as inedible porcine fat, vegetable cooking oil used in frying, fat from wash water in beef rendering and from factory cooking operations, and unrefined, inedible soybean oil produced from the refining process.

KLM, which merged with Air France in 2004 and has led among airlines in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, said many factors affect the level of sustainability of biofuels. It ensures the quality of its biokerosene with advise from the Sustainability Board, which includes the Dutch wing of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Copernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht.

The carrier made clear its support for the WWF's Energy Report, which says alternative fuels made from biomass are the only appropriate replacement for fossil fuels for sectors such as the airline industry.

"The route to 100 percent sustainable energy is enormously challenging," managing director Camiel Eurlings said in a statement. "The costs of biofuels need to come down substantially and permanently. This can be achieved through innovation, collaboration and the right legislation that stimulates biofuel in the airline industry, but with an eye on honest competition. We really need to move forward together to attain continuous access to sustainable fuel."


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