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Taking Flight On Jatropha Fuel

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Fly to Paris on fuel made of algae and jatropha plants? That day may be coming.

Virgin Atlantic already ran a test from London to Amsterdam with fuel mixed with coconut oil and babassu oil earlier this year. Now Continental Airlines, in partnership with Boeing, is planning a test flight of a 737-800 aircraft partially fueled by biofuels. The test is scheduled for Jan. 7 in Houston.

The plane, which will not carry passengers, will be outfitted with a right engine running on a 50-50 blend of traditional jet fuel and a mixture of biofuels including algae and jatropha plants.

The jatropha is a family of plants, shrubs and trees native to Central America but found in many tropical and subtropical areas. It will be the first time an American airline has attempted such a test.

Air New Zealand was planning to test a similar biofuel last week, but postponed the flight while it deals with the crash of one of its aircraft off the coast of France.

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