Back in late 2008 I talked about how Boeing was working with Continental Airlines on an algae-based bio fuel.
On Thursday Bill Blover, managing director of environmental strategy for Boeing Commercial Planes stated the new fuel could be approved and in commercial flights as early as early 2010. He states the technology is ready, but there isn’t enough plant stock yet to create enough fuel.
The New York Times reportsthat Boeing has been working with four airlines on four different fuel mixtures, “Virgin Atlantic flight using a coconut- and babassu-derived biofuel blend; an Air New Zealand flight using a jatropha-derived biofuel blend; a Continental Airlines flight using a blend of algae- and jatropha-derived biofuel; and a Japan Airlines flight using an algae-, jatropha- and camelina-derived biofuel blend.”
Air New Zealand showed a 1% improvement in fuel efficiency which might not sound like a lot, but a large jet burning fuel on a 12 hour flight, equates to about a savings of 1.43 metric tons of fuel and 4.5 metric tons of reduced carbon dioxide. Multiply that by the amount of flights going on globally on any given day, and that ads up to a lot of savings.
Even though we might start seeing some new biofuel in some jets starting in early 2010, they will still have to fight production ability and being cost effective compared to jet fuel and if the economy is down, it is most likely airlines won’t be willing to pay a premium for green fuel.Image: AP Photo/NZ Herald, Paul Estcourt
Feedstock for Bio Jet Fuel that can meet and exceed the sustainability criteria of the Aviation industry require substantial investment. KBC is seeking to compile a project data base that can be bundled into a prospectus that will support the route to drop in solutions. According to professional resources an Algae solution is many many years away. Currently the refinery technology from UOP is centralised. In order to gain a least cost solution we require a certified scaled down refinery solution that is a bolt on to a complete Bio refinery platform. This way the opportunity to deploy engineered solutions throughout the su-tropics at strategic zones is available.
Jatropha Curcas Linn has been very poorly represented this past few years. There are improved agricultural practices and some advance with selection but under any circumstance we need to train a lot of farmers from rural communities (either for company plantation or community driven (both) extension of the species). This can happen. The outcome may be massive reductions in GHG emissions as well as significant fuel savings for the aviation industries as well as some added values for the national carriers of developing regions.
Bio-fuel is so chemically similar to petroleum distillates that I believe this transition will go very very quickly. With news of successful U.S. military flights of the F-22 fighter jet, and other military transport aircraft under the power of Bio-fuel, it shouldn’t take too long for commercial aviation to at least open it’s menu up to include this variety of fuel.