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Green Car Congress: Aviation future


[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

New series of test flights for Honeywell Green Jet Fuel produced from optimized oilseed feedstock and at higher blend ratios

April 18, 2012

UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, announced that Honeywell Green Jet Fuel (earlier post) will be used for the first comprehensive test program using a new optimized industrial oilseed biofeedstock specifically designed for biofuel production. The test flights, to be done in Canada with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Agrisoma Biosciences Inc., will also feature in-flight collection of emissions by a trailing aircraft, allowing for later evaluation of the Green Jet Fuel’s emissions performance.

The program will also test blends of Honeywell Green Jet Fuel at higher ratios than previous demonstration flights, which have been conducted using a 50/50 ratio of biofuel and jet fuel produced from petroleum.

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Qatar Airways looking to take up to a 10% stake in alcohol-to-jet company Byogy, along with off-take agreement

April 10, 2012

Bloomberg reports that Qatar Airways Ltd. plans to take up to a 10% stake in alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel company Byogy Renewables Inc., coupled with an off-take agreement. (Earlier post.) In March, Byogy announced a joint venture with Qatar Airways as well as other partnerships including a feedstock agreement with Brazilian sugar cane ethanol producer Itapecuru Bioenergia and fuel off-take terms with Brazil’s Azul Airways.

The ATJ process broadly consists of four main steps: dehydration of the alcohol; oligomerization; distillation; and hydrogenation. Alcohol is attractive as a feedstock for the production of renewable jet fuel partly because the steps required are currently in use at commercial scale in the petrochemical industry. Key to the cost-effectiveness of ATJ is reducing the production cost of the alcohol, as well as of the ATJ process itself.

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Virent produces high quality renewable jet and gasoline from Virdia’s cellulosic sugars

March 26, 2012

Virent and Virdia, formerly HCL CleanTech, have successfully converted cellulosic pine tree sugars to drop-in hydrocarbon fuels within the BIRD Energy project, a joint program funded by the US Department of Energy, the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructure and the BIRD Foundation. (Earlier post.)

The project, which commenced in January 2011, successfully demonstrated that Virdia’s deconstruction process generated high-quality sugars from cellulosic biomass, which were converted to fuel via Virent’s BioForming process. Virentused Virdia’s biomass-derived sugars to produce gasoline and jet fuel, the latter being sent to the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for analysis where it passed rigorous testing.

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Airbus joins Australian consortium developing pyrolysis pathway for renewable jet fuel

March 21, 2012

Airbus has joined a consortium that includes Virgin Australia, Renewable Oil Corporation, the Future Farm Industries CRC, Canadian biofuels company Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation and GE to study a new pathway for the production of sustainable aviation fuels from mallee trees using fast pyrolysis and subsequent bio-oil upgrading. (Earlier post.)

Eucalyptus mallee trees, grown in Western Australia’s wheat belt, are sustainably harvested and converted to a feedstock. Mallee is indigenous to Australia and is well adapted to the environment. It is a suitable sustainable crop because it helps return salt-affected land to a productive state.

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Naval Air Warfare Center awards contract to Albemarle for processing Cobalt Technologies’ bio n-butanol to renewable jet fuel using Alcohol-to-Jet process

March 20, 2012

Overview of the NAWCWD alcohol-to-jet process. Source: NAWCWD. Click to enlarge.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), China Lake has awarded a contract to Albemarle Corporation to complete the first biojet fuel production run based on bio n-butanolprovided by Cobalt Technologies. For this production run, Albemarle will use NAWCWD alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) technologies (developed by Michael Wright, Benjamin Harvey and Roxanne Quintana, earlier post) to process Cobalt’s bio n-butanol into renewable jet fuel at its Baton Rouge, La. processing facility.

Cobalt converts non-food feedstock such as woody biomass into renewable butanol for both chemicals and fuels, including jet fuel. The combined science team from Cobalt and the NAWCWD focused on scaling and optimizing the dehydration chemistry for the conversion of bio n-butanol to 1-butene, followed by oligomerization of the bio-butene into jet fuel, based on the process developed at NAWCWD in China Lake, CA. (Earlier post.)

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MIT/Stanford team optimizes shape of Busemann-type supersonic biplane to reduce drag, fuel consumption, and sonic booms

Conceptual drawing of a supersonic biplane in flight. Credit: Tohoku University. Click to enlarge.

MIT assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics Qiqi Wang and his colleagues Rui Hu, a postdoc in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Antony Jameson, a professor of engineering at Stanford University, have optimized the aerodynamic shape of a Busemann-type supersonic biplane to reduce the wave drag at supersonic cruise speeds.

This decreased drag would produce less of a sonic boom, and also reduce the fuel consumption of the plane, according to Wang. A paper on the group’s work has been accepted for publication in the AIAA Journal of Aircraft. An earlier version of the paper was presented at the 49th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting in 2011.

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NASA seeking proposals for Green Propellant technology demonstrations

February 09, 2012

NASA has issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA, NNM12ZZP03K) seeking technology demonstration proposals for green propellant alternatives to the highly toxic fuel hydrazine. As NASA works with US companies to open a new era of access to space, the agency seeks innovative and transformative fuels that are less harmful to the environment.

Hydrazine is an efficient and ubiquitous propellant that can be stored for long periods of time, but is also highly corrosive and toxic. It is used extensively on commercial and defense department satellites as well as for NASA science and exploration missions. NASA is looking for an alternative that decreases environmental hazards and pollutants, has fewer operational hazards and shortens rocket launch processing times.

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OSU researchers working to improve CFD software for simulation and evaluation of turbomachinery

December 27, 2011

Simulations of pulsing vortex generating jets, a type of flow control device, created on Ohio Supercomputer Center systems.Vorticity iso-surfaces are colored by velocity magnitude. Credit: Chen/OSU. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the Ohio State University led by Dr. Jen-Ping Chen are working to improve the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software that engineers use to simulate and evaluate the operation ofturbomachinery.

Turbomachinery—pumps, fans, compressors, turbines and other machines that transfer energy between a rotor and a fluid—is especially instrumental in power generation in the aeronautic, automotive, marine, space and industrial sectors. For engine designers to achieve the most efficient propulsion and power systems, they must understand the physics of very complex air-flow fields produced within multiple stages of constantly rotating rotors and stators.

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Licella signs MoUs with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand on renewable aviation fuels

December 14, 2011

Australia-based Licella, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ignite Energy, has signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand to examine the development and commercialization of a process to convert woody biomass into sustainable aviation biofuel.

Licella has developed a process using a continuous flow catalytic hydro-thermal reactor (Cat-HTR) with supercritical water which converts woody materials and other biomass into a high quality bio-crude oil. The Licella bio-crude, which has an energy density of 34-36 MJ/kg and oxygen content of around 10 wt% or less, can then be refined into drop-in fuels.

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Virent secures $1.5M FAA award to advance renewable jet fuel certification

December 06, 2011

Virent has received a $1.5-million award from the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to advance the readiness of Virent’s drop-in jet fuel. (Earlier post.)

This award supports the generation of 100 gallons of Virent jet fuel for the purposes for fit-for-purpose testing at the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson AFB. The lab will measure criteria such as seal swell properties, density, boiling points, freeze points, and other qualities which, when met, will help Virent’s fuel move through ASTM certification. The duration of the award is two years.

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Honeywell’s UOP receives $1.1M FAA contract to demonstrate technology for conversion of isobutanol from Gevo to aviation biofuels

December 02, 2011

UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, was awarded a $1.1 million contract from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) via the US Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center to develop and demonstrate technology that will produce renewable jet fuel from isobutanol supplied by Gevo, Inc. (Earlier post.) The award was one of eight such from the FAA, totaling $7.7M.

Isobutanol can be produced from a variety of starch and sugar feedstocks, including corn. In the future, inedible sources, such as corn stover, bagasse and wood residues, could also be used as feedstocks. In September, Gevo received a $5-million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the development of biojet fuel from woody biomass and forest product residues. (Earlier post.)

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LanzaTech receives $3M contract from FAA for alcohol-to-jet project; one of 8 awards worth total of $7.7M

December 01, 2011

Different pathways to jet fuel. Alcohol-to-jet (bottom) is currently being explored by an ASTM Working Group. Source: Byogy. Click to enlarge.

LanzaTech has received a US$3-million contract from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), through the Department of Transportation’s John A. Volpe Center, to accelerate commercial availability of alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) renewable drop-in aviation fuel. (Earlier post.)

The award was the largest of eight contracts worth a total of $7.7 million announced by the FAA to help advance alternative, environmentally-friendly, sustainable sources for commercial jet fuel.

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Global Bioenergies and LanzaTech to collaborate to assess the bioproduction of isobutene from carbon monoxide

November 23, 2011

Global Bioenergies S.A. and LanzaTech Ltd, two industrial biology companies, have begun a feasibility study to examine whether Global Bioenergies’ artificial isobutene pathway (earlier post), can be functionally transferred into LanzaTech’s carbon monoxide-using organism (earlier post).

Isobutene is a widely used intermediate chemical used for the production of fuel additives, rubber and solvents. In a paper earlier this year describing a new mixed oxide catalyst for the direct conversion of bio-ethanol to isobutene, researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) noted that trimerization of isobutene produces tri-isobutenes, which can be used as an additive for jet fuel. Isobutene dimerization and hydrogenation to produce isooctane is used to increase the octane number of gasoline, and isobutene also reacts with alcohols such as ethanol to form ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE), a gasoline additive. (Earlier post.)

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MIT study finds including non-CO2 emissions from synthetic aviation fuel in lifecycle analysis of climate impact can lead to decrease in relative environmental merit; need for a holistic analysis framework

Aviation climate change impacts pathway. Credit: ACS, Stratton et al. Click to enlarge.

A new study by researchers at MIT has found that factoring the non-CO2 combustion emissions and effects into the lifecycle of a Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK) aviation fuel can lead to a decrease in the relative environmental merit of the SPK fuel compared to conventional jet fuel.

As a result, they suggest in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, climate change mitigation policies for aviation that rely exclusively on relative “well-to-wake” lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a proxy for aviation climate impact may overestimate the benefit of alternative fuel use on the global climate system.

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DoD report concludes use of renewable fuels contributes to national security interests, but at a price penalty

November 08, 2011

Increased use of renewable fuels by the US Department of Defense (DoD) contributes to US national security interests, achieves Service energy security goals, and offers some limited military utility, according to a new report released by DoD.

However, the report also finds that the projected supply of drop-in renewable fuels will not be sufficient to meet anticipated DoD demand for renewable jet fuel products, and that price premiums for drop-in renewable fuels and the budgetary implications associated with meeting renewable fuel goals may be considerable. Further action by DoD and Congress could help to promote renewable jet fuel production and address the price premiums necessary for the Services to achieve their renewable fuel goals, it concludes.

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Alaska Airlines launching 75 flights powered by 20% biofuel blend in the US; SkyNRG the fuel supplier

November 07, 2011

Alaska Airlines will fly 75 commercial passenger flights in the United States powered by a biofuel blend, starting this Wednesday. Two flights will leave Seattle on 9 Nov. for Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon. Alaska Airlines and its sister carrier, Horizon Air, will continue to operate select flights between Seattle and the two cities over the next few weeks using a 20% blend of renewable biofuel.

The fuel was supplied by SkyNRG, an aviation biofuels broker, and made by Dynamic Fuels, a producer of next-generation renewable, synthetic fuels made from used cooking oil. The synthetic fuel made by Dynamic Fuels—a $170 million joint-venture between Tyson Foods Inc. and Syntroleum Corp. (earlier post)—meets aviation and military safety, sustainability and performance standards.

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GE Aviation Common Core System for the 787 Dreamliner marks debut of open architecture approach for this type of commercial aviation system

October 28, 2011

The open architecture common core system (CCS) that houses third-party modules. Source: GE Aviation.

On Wednesday, ANA made the first commercial flight with one of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliners (earlier post)—a 4-hour hop from Tokyo to Hong Kong. The Dreamliner marks a number of visible—and many more not so visible—innovations in design, materials, flight systems, propulsion and environmental performance. (On Wednesday, the UK Guardian ran a poll asking if “all airlines should be forced to fly the most environmentally friendly plane possible—such as the Dreamliner.” Almost 56% of respondents so far have said “yes”.)

GE Aviation Systems is a key supplier on the 787, including the common core system (CCS) and the landing gear actuation, indication and nose wheel steering systems. (GE also is one of the engine suppliers for the 787). The CCS is the backbone of the Boeing 787’s computers, networks and interfacing electronics, and provides the primary computing environment for the Dreamliner. The Dreamliner CCS marks the debut of an open architecture approach to this critical system, notes George Kiefer, vice president of Avionics, North America, GE Aviation Systems.

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Purdue study projects that under likely adoption rates, use of biojet fuel alone will not meet aviation emissions reduction targets for 2050; the need to go above 50% blends

October 16, 2011

Uncertainty range of the aviation GHG emissions under the High Oil price scenario (the most optimistic for biojet adoption), given in a box plot depicting the minimum, quartile, and maximum values. Credit: ACS, Agusdinata et al. Click to enlarge.

A study by a team from Purdue University has found that, at what it determined as likely adoption rates, the use of drop-in biojet fuel (produced from US feedstocks) at up to a 50:50 blend with petrojet fuel alone would not be sufficient to achieve the aviation emissions reduction target of 50% below 2005 levels by 2050.

In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they report finding that in 2050, under a high oil price scenario assumption, GHG emissions can be reduced to a level ranging from 55 to 92%, with a median value of 74%, compared to the 2005 baseline level. The study combines lifecycle analysis of different biojet pathways with a model of the supply and demand chain of biojet involving farmers, biorefineries, airlines, and policymaker, considering the factors that drive the decisions of actors (i.e., decision-makers and stakeholders) in the lifecycle stages.

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LanzaTech and Swedish Biofuels partnering with Virgin Atlantic on waste gas-to-ethanol-to-jet fuel process; targeting commercial use by 2014

October 11, 2011

Virgin Atlantic announced the development of a low-carbon, synthetic jet fuel kerosene produced from industrial waste gases with half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative in partnership with LanzaTech and Swedish Biofuels.

Virgin Atlantic will be the first airline to use this fuel and will work with LanzaTech, Boeing and Swedish Biofuels towards achieving the technical approval required for using new fuel types in commercial aircraft. A demo flight with the new fuel is planned in 12-18 months, with commercialization targeted for 2014.

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NASA awards Green Flight Challenge Prizes; electric-powered winners fly 200 miles on .5 gallon fuel equivalent per passenger

October 03, 2011

the Pipistrel Taurus G4 in flight. Click to enlarge.

NASA has awarded the largest prize in aviation history, created to inspire the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft and spark the start of a new electric airplane industry. (Earlier post.) The first place Green Flight Challenge prize of $1.35 million was awarded to team of State College, Pa, for the Taurus G4. The second place prize of $120,000 went to team eGenius, of Ramona, Calif.

The winning aircraft had to fly 200 miles (322 km) in less than two hours and use less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or the equivalent in electricity. The winning aircraft also had to take off from a distance of less than 2,000 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle and deliver a decibel level below 78 dBA at full power takeoff, as measured from a 250-foot sideline.

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Gevo awarded $5M to develop cellulosic jet fuel; separate contract to supply alcohol-to-jet drop-in biojet fuel to USAF

September 28, 2011

Gevo, Inc. received a $5-million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the development of biojet fuel from woody biomass and forest product residues. The award is a portion of a $40-million grant presented to the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), a consortium led by Washington State University (WSU). (Earlier post.)

Separately, Gevo has also been awarded a contract by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to supply biojet fuel to the US Air Force (USAF). The contract, worth a possible total of $600,000, provides that Gevo will supply the USAF with up to 11,000 gallons of “alcohol-to-jet” (ATJ)-based jet fuel, which will be used to support engine testing and a feasibility flight demonstration using an A-10 aircraft.

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USDA awarding $136M to five major research projects focused in part on developing cellulosic drop-in aviation fuels

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five major agricultural research projects aimed at developing regional, renewable energy markets, generating rural jobs, and decreasing America’s dependence on foreign oil. Altogether, the five-year program will deliver more than $136 million in research and development grants to public and private sector partners in 22 states.

University partners from the states of Washington, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Iowa will lead the projects, which focus in part on developing aviation biofuels from tall grasses, crop residues and forest resources. Vilsack made the announcement with partners from private industry, research institutions, and the biofuels industry at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

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Airbus forecasts demand for more than 27,800 aircraft over the next 20 years; global passenger fleet to double; the role of megacities

September 19, 2011

Airbus foresees strong ongoing demand for commercial aircraft. According to its latest Global Market Forecast (GMF), by 2030 some 27,800 new aircraft will be required to satisfy future market demand. The combined value of the more than 26,900 passenger aircraft (above 100 seats) and more than 900 new factory-built freighters forecast by the GMF is US$3.5 trillion.

As a result, by 2030 the global passenger fleet will more than double from today’s 15,000 aircraft to 31,500. This will include some 27,800 new aircraft deliveries of which 10,500 will be needed for replacing older less fuel efficient aircraft. The trend towards larger aircraft will continue, according to Airbus, in order for the aviation sector to keep pace with future growth in demand.

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New catalytic decarboxylation process for converting fatty acids to drop-in hydrocarbon fuels; initial focus on biojet

September 14, 2011

Overview of AliphaJet process. Click to enlarge.

AliphaJet, Inc., a collaborative venture between SynGest Inc. and Unitel Technologies, has says it has developed and successfully demonstrated a cost-effective catalytic method for making jet biofuel from renewable products such as plant and animal triglycerides and/or fatty acids. The development of the AliphaJet process was led by Dr. Ravi Randhava in collaboration with Dr. Paul Ratnasamy at the University of Louisville.

AliphaJet’s BoxCar process first converts crude fat feedstock into fatty acids and glycerol. The fatty acids are then put through catalytic decarboxylation (CDC) to produce bio paraffins. The CDC process is capable of processing unsaturated as well as saturated fatty acids into true hydrocarbons. The process does not change the type of saturation; however, when necessary to create fuels from unsaturated fats, introduction of a small amount of hydrogen during the catalytic decarboxylation step will yield a saturated hydrocarbon suited for fuels.

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SG Biofuels teams With JETBIO and aviation stakeholders to deploy Jatropha for biojet fuel in Brazil

SG Biofuels (SGB) has teamed with JETBIO, leader of a multi-stakeholder initiative including Airbus, the Inter-American Development Bank, Bioventures Brasil, Rio Pardo Bioenergia, Air BP and TAM Airlines, to accelerate the production of crude Jatropha oil as a source for aviation biojet fuel in Brazil.

SGB will work with Bioventures Brasil, an energy crop project developer, and other program partners on a multi-phased program leading to the deployment of 75,000 acres of intercropped Jatropha plantations in the Central-west region of Brazil using SGB’s JMax hybrid seeds. The crude Jatropha oil produced will be converted into biokerosene to supply customer airlines.

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Honeywell’s UOP breaks ground on integrated biorefinery project in Hawaii for drop-in gasoline, jet and diesel from fast pyrolysis of biomass and catalytic upgrading

August 30, 2011

UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, has begun construction in Hawaii of a demonstration unit that will convert forest residuals, algae and other cellulosic biomass into renewable drop-in transportation fuels via a rapid pyrolysis process integrated with a catalytic upgrading process.

Backed by a $25-million US Department of Energy (DOE) award, the Honeywell UOP Integrated Biorefinery will utilize rapid thermal processing (RTP) technology (earlier post) to convert biomass into a pourable, liquid bio-oil (pyrolysis oil). This bio-oil will then be upgraded to gasoline, jet and diesel fuels using catalytic hydroprocessing technology being developed by UOP.

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Airbus expanding fuel cell R&D with autonomous taxiing demonstrator, partnership with Parker Aerospace

July 06, 2011

A German Aerospace Center (DLR)-designed fuel cell technology demonstrator has been installed in the DLR-owned A320 fuel cell test aircraft at the Airbus site in Hamburg to explore the potential of fuel cell technology as supply for electric power in aircraft ground operation.

This is Airbus’s second fuel cell technology announcement within the space of a few weeks, the first coming in late June with the company’s partnering with Parker Aerospace on fuel cell R&D. Airbus says it considers fuel cell technology as a key contributor to meeting the ACARE (Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe) 2020 goals, which foresee the reduction of CO2 emissions by 50%, NOx emissions by 80% and noise by 50%. (Earlier post.)

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Virgin Australia, Dynamotive and partners developing renewable aviation biofuel from mallees trees using a fast pyrolysis pathway

Australia-based airline Virgin Australia is partnering with Renewable Oil Corporation (ROC), Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation and Future Farm Industries Co-operative Research Centre (FFI CRC) to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel that also has benefits for the Australian farming community and the environment.

The consortium plans to use fast pyrolysis and subsequent bio-oil upgrading technology developed by Dynamotive (earlier post) to process mallees, a type of eucalyptus that can be grown sustainably in many parts of Australia, into renewable jet fuel. The partnership brings together companies with special expertise in growing, harvesting and processing feedstock into aviation fuel to support the development of a full-scale commercial plant in Western Australia.

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ASTM aviation fuel standard now specifies bio-derived components

July 01, 2011

Renewable fuels can now be blended with conventional commercial and military jet (or gas turbine) fuel through requirements in the newly issued edition of ASTM D7566-11, Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons. The revised standard was approved 1 July 2011. (Earlier post.)

Through the new provisions included in ASTM D7566, up to 50% bio-derived synthetic blending components can be added to conventional jet fuel. These renewable fuel components, called hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA), are identical to hydrocarbons found in jet fuel, but come from vegetable oil-containing feedstocks such as algae, camelina or jatropha, or from animal fats called tallow. The standard already has criteria for fuel produced from coal, natural gas or biomass using Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.

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Gevo to proceed to jet engine testing of its renewable jet fuel from isobutanol with approval of ASTM alcohol-to-jet task force

June 29, 2011

Gevo, a renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, recently announced that it had presented positive test results from fit-for-purpose testing of its renewable kerosene produced from isobutanol to ASTM’s alcohol to jet (ATJ) task force (D02J006 Alcohol to Jet TF).

The ATJ task force consists of technical experts from a wide stakeholder group including jet engine manufacturers, governmental bodies, fuel manufacturers, third-party testing laboratories, academics and airframe manufacturers investigating the requirements for a third major pathway to renewable drop-in jet fuel: the conversion of alcohols. Two first two synthetic fuel pathways approved by ASTM are gas-to-liquids and hydroprocessed oils. (Earlier post.)

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KLM launching regular commercial flights Amsterdam – Paris on biofuel blend in September; Dynamic Fuels producing the bio-kerosene (HRJ) from used cooking oil

June 26, 2011

Dynamic Fuels will useSyntroleum’s Bio-Synfiningprocess to hydrotreat the used cooking oil to produce renewable jet. Source: Syntroleum. Click to enlarge.

In September, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will launch more than 200 flights being operated on a bio-kerosene (hydroprocessed renewable jet, HRJ) blend between Amsterdam and Paris. The biofuel will beproduced from used cooking oil by Dynamic Fuels at its Geismar plant and supplied by SkyNRG, the consortium launched by KLM and North Sea Group and Spring Associates in 2009.

Dynamic Fuels is a 50:50 joint venture formed in 2007 between Syntroleum Corporation and Tyson Foods for the production of synthetic fuels from animal fats and greases. (Earlier post.) The plant usesSyntroleum’s Bio-Synfining Technology to produce the renewable fuels from feedstocks produced or procured by Tyson Foods.

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Neste Oil joins two research projects to scale up algae output for NExBTL renewable fuels; commits to 2020 targets for aviation biofuels

June 23, 2011

Neste Oil is continuing its research into the potential for using algae oil as a feedstock for producing NExBTL renewable diesel by taking part in two research projects starting this summer to test various methods for growing algae in outdoor conditions. The goal of the projects in the Netherlands and Australia will be to build up experience on the suitability of different types of algae for use in industrial-scale production under a variety of conditions.

Separately, the company committed itself to a European Aviation Biofuels Flightpath introduced in Paris aimed at increasing the use of aviation biofuels to 2 million tons annually by 2020. (Earlier post.)

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Siemens and partners build first aircraft with series hybrid electric drive

Siemens Drive Technologies Division supplied the integrated drive train for the first series-hybrid electric aircraft. Source: Siemens. Click to enlarge.

Siemens, Diamond Aircraft and EADS have built an aircraft equipped with a series hybrid electric drive system. The partners are presenting the two-seater motor glider DA36 E-Star at the Paris Air Show Le Bourget 2011 (until 26 June) in daily flight shows. The aircraft was built to test the hybrid electric drive concept.

The technology, which is intended for later use also in large-scale aircraft, will cut fuel consumption and emissions by 25%, compared to today’s most efficient aircraft drives, according to Siemens.

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European Commission, Airbus, airlines and biofuel producers launch initiative targeting 2M tonnes of aviation biofuel annually by 2020

The European Commission’s services, in close coordination with Airbus, leading European airlines (Lufthansa, Air France/KLM, & British Airways) and key European biofuel producers (Choren Industries,Neste Oil, Biomass Technology Group and UOP), have launched a new industry-wide initiative to try to speed up the commercialization of aviation biofuels in Europe. Labelled “Biofuel Flightpath”, the initiative is a roadmap with clear milestones which targets an annual production of two million tonnes of sustainably produced biofuel for aviation by 2020.

The biofuel will be produced in Europe from European sourced feedstock material and has the backing of The European Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, Airbus CEO Tom Enders, major European airlines, and a number of advanced biofuel producers. Lufthansa and British Airways from the airlines; and Neste Oil and UOP/Honeywell from the biofuel producers were members of the core team that developed the Biofuel Flightpath.

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American Airlines to be launch customer for Boeing ecoDemonstrator program; flight testing a range of new technologies to reduce fuel consumption, emissions and noise

June 22, 2011

American Airlines will be the launch customer for Boeing’s evolutionary ecoDemonstrator Program, in which a Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 aircraft will be used to flight test and accelerate the market readiness of emerging technologies to help reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions and community noise.

The American Airlines 737-800, and a twin-aisle airplane that will be announced at a later date, are serving as the flight test component for the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Continuous Lower Energy Emissions Noise (CLEEN) program, along with other technologies developed by Boeing and other industry partners.

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7 airlines sign letters of intent to negotiate purchase of biomass-derived jet fuel from Solena Fuels; up to 16M gallons of fuel per year

June 20, 2011

A core group of airlines has signed letters of intent with Solena Fuels, LLC for a future supply of jet fuel derived exclusively from biomass to be produced in northern California. Solena’s “GreenSky California” biomass-to-liquids (BTL) facility in Northern California (Santa Clara County) will utilize post-recycled urban and agricultural wastes to produce up to 16 million gallons of neat jet fuel (as well as 14 million gallon equivalents of other energy products) per year by 2015 to support airline operations at Oakland (OAK), San Francisco (SFO) and/or San Jose (SJC). (Earlier post.)

The project will divert approximately 550,000 metric tons of waste that otherwise would go to a landfill while producing jet fuel with lower emissions of greenhouse gases and local pollutants than petroleum-based fuels.

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Boeing forecasts $4T global market for 33,500 new airplanes over next 20 years; Asia Pacific represents largest market by value

June 16, 2011

Boeing sees the Asia Pacific region dominating travel growth. Source: Boeing. Click to enlarge.

Boeing forecasts a $4-trillion market for new aircraft over the next 20 years with a significant increase in forecasted deliveries. That’s according to the Boeing 2011 Current Market Outlook (CMO) released in Paris. The company’s annual commercial aviation market analysis foresees a market for 33,500 new passenger airplanes and freighters between 2011 and 2030.

Passenger traffic is expected to grow at 5.1% annual rate over the long-term and the world fleet is expected to double by 2030. The single-aisle market will continue to see strong demand around the world and is expected to increase its share of the market, according to Boeing. Fleet composition will change significantly by 2030 with single-aisle jets making up 70% of the total, up from 62% in 2010.

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ASTM committee votes to approve biojet fuel in blends up to 50%; final issuance of spec expected by August

June 10, 2011

An ASTM committee has voted to approve the addition of a new bio-derived jet fuel annex to the alternative jet fuel specification D7566 (Standard Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons). The new annex details the fuel properties and criteria necessary to control the manufacture and quality of this new fuel, now referred to as “Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids” (HEFA) fuel, to ensure safe aviation use.

With the approval of the alternative jet fuel specification for HEFA—sometimes referred to as “hydroprocessed renewable jet” (HRJ) fuel—hydroprocessing of plant oils becomes another pathway for production of alternative jet fuels. Once issued by ASTM, the revised specification will enable use of HEFA fuels from biomass feedstocks such as camelina, jatropha or algae, in combination with conventional jet fuel up to a 50% blend.

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Study details viable pathway to develop sustainable aviation biofuels industry in Pacific Northwest; hydroprocessing of natural oils seen as the most immediate opportunity

May 25, 2011

Biomass resources of the US, with the Northwest circled. Source: SAFN report, via NREL. Click to enlarge.

The Pacific Northwest has the diverse feedstocks, fuel-delivery infrastructure and political will needed to create a viable biofuels industry capable of reducing greenhouse gases and meeting the future fuel demands of the aviation industry, according to a newly-released study by Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest (SAFN). Creating an aviation biofuels industry, however, will depend upon securing early government policy support to prioritize the aviation industry in US biofuel development, the report continues.

Noting that no single feedstock or technology pathway is likely to provide sustainable aviation fuel at the scale or speed needed to achieve industry goals, the report focuses on a portfolio of options, including different conversion technologies and sources of potentially sustainable biomass, including oilseeds, forest residues, solid waste, and algae.

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CSIRO report concludes that sustainable biojet fuel industry is achievable for Australia/New Zealand

Possible e biomass to liquid fuel refining process pathways. Source: CSIRO. Click to enlarge.

Establishing an economically and environmentally beneficial, bio-derived Australian and New Zealand aviation fuels industry is a viable proposition, according to a report compiled by CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia’s national science agency) in collaboration with the region’s major aviation industry players.

The report, “Flight Path to Sustainable Aviation”, examines a road map scenario under which the Australian and New Zealand aviation sectors achieve a 5% bio-derived jet fuel share in their fuel use by 2020, expanding that amount to 40% of their total fuel use by 2050. This development further enables the stabilization of aviation industry emissions from 2020 and assists in reducing emissions from 2030.

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Avjet Biotech negotiating strategic relationship with BioJet international for distributed refineries for drop-in renewable aviation fuel

April 28, 2011

Avjet Biotech, Inc. (ABI), a developer of small distributive refining systems in the 10 to 15 million gallon per year range and parent company of drop-in biofuel company Red Wolf Refining (RWR), is in negotiation for a strategic relationship with BioJet International Ltd, an international supply chain integrator, for renewable (bio) jet fuel and related co-products.

Under the agreement with ABI, BioJet will use the patented RWR System (earlier post) to build refineries that will produce drop-in renewable aviation biofuels from native feedstocks at locations around the globe.

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Gevo contracts with Mustang Engineering for the conversion of Gevo’s renewable isobutanol to biojet fuel

April 26, 2011

High-level process schematic for hydrocarbons from isobutanol. Source: Gevo. Click to enlarge.

Gevo, Inc., a renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, signed an engineering and consulting agreement with Mustang Engineering, LP for the conversion of Gevo’s renewable isobutanol to biojet fuel. This effort will focus on the downstream processing of isobutanol to paraffinic kerosene (jet fuel) for jet engine testing, airline suitability flights and advancing commercial deployment. (Earlier post.)

Gevo also announced that its “fit for purpose” testing at the Air Force Research Laboratory continues with a final report expected in June. Once completed successfully, the company will initiate jet engine testing with engine manufacturers.

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Start-up commercializing NC State technology for drop-in biofuels; full commercial production targeted for 2016

April 25, 2011

Avjet Biotech, Inc. (ABI), a developer of small distributive refining systems in the 10 to 15 million gallon per year range and parent company of Red Wolf Refining, has licensed exclusive rights to a technology portfolio developed at North Carolina State University (NCSU) for producing drop-in diesel, jet and gasoline hydrocarbon fuels from triglycerides (fats), and for producing products from genetically modified marine microalgae (earlier post).

NCSU had earlier licensed the technology to Diversified Energy (earlier post). Diversified Energy’s license agreement was terminated, according to Dr. Terry Bray at NCSU’s Office of Technology Transfer.

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