Skift Take

David Neeleman is turning to the time-tested tradition of offering a monetary incentive to the first innovators to turn natural gas into jet fuel for half the cost of the current process at $80 per barrel.

David Neeleman, the serial entrepreneur with four successful airlines under his belt, is looking to tackle one of aviation’s most acute problems: the price of jet fuel.

Birmingham Airport - planes - Thomson Airways

The price of crude oil hit an all-time high of $150 in July 2008. Photo by Elliot Brown.

The notion of converting a gas into a liquid jet fuel is not as technically far-fetched as it may initially sound. In Qatar, Shell (RDSA) has built an $18 billion GTL (gas-to-liquid) plant that produces jet fuel from gas at a cost of $80 per barrel. A Qatar Airways flight in 2009became the first to be powered by fuel derived from gas.

While that price is too high for worldwide feasibility, Neeleman said that cutting it to $40 would be a “game changer” that would make natural gas a better alternative-fuel source than current research into fuel sources such as jatropha, algae, and other biofuels.

Subscribe to Skift Pro

Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)

Subscribe Now

Tags: biofuels, green, jetblue airways, oil