Availability and sustainability key challenges, says Lufthansa, as biofuel trials end with first commercial transatlantic flight

The six-month trial by Lufthansa using biofuel blends on the route between Hamburg and Frankfurt has ended with its first scheduled commercial transatlantic biofuel flight on January 12. In all, 1,187 scheduled flights were carried out between July and December using an Airbus A321 with a 50-50 blend of regular fuel and biosynthetic kerosene in one engine. Total consumption of the biokerosene mix amounted to 1,556 tonnes, says the airline, and initial calculations suggest CO2 emissions were reduced by 1,471 tonnes as a result. [Based on what evidence ?? That is assuming the fuel produces overall about two thirds less carbon than conventional kerosene ? **]

 

Availability and sustainability key challenges, says Lufthansa, as biofuel trials end with first commercial transatlantic flight

23.1.2012 (Green Air online)

The six-month trial by Lufthansa using biofuel blends on the route between Hamburg and Frankfurt has ended with its first scheduled commercial transatlantic biofuel flight on January 12.

In all, 1,187 scheduled flights were carried out between July and December using an Airbus A321 with a 50-50 blend of regular fuel and biosynthetic kerosene in one engine.

Total consumption of the biokerosene mix amounted to 1,556 tonnes, says the airline, and initial calculations suggest CO2 emissions were reduced by 1,471 tonnes as a result. [Based on what evidence ?? That is assuming the fuel produces overall about two thirds less carbon than conventional kerosene ? **]

Lufthansa also reports that thanks to the higher density of biofuel, fuel consumption is reduced by more than 1%, with the added benefit of cleaner burning fuel due to a lack of sulphur and aromatic compounds.

“Our burnFAIR project went off smoothly and to our fullest satisfaction,” said Joachim Buse, Lufthansa’s Vice President Aviation Biofuel. “As expected, biofuel proved its worth in daily flight operations.”

Despite the success of the trials, Buse warned of challenges ahead for aviation biofuels. “As a next step, we will focus on the suitability, availability, sustainability and certification of raw materials. But first we must tap into this market.

“However, Lufthansa will only continue the practical trial if we are able to secure the volume of sustainable, certified raw materials required in order to maintain routine operations.”

In the meantime, the airline will focus on analysing the data captured during the trial to look at the effects of biofuels on both the environment and also the maintenance and life-time of the engines. Lufthansa claims biofuels emit around 50% less than conventional fossil fuels.

The Boeing 747-400 transatlantic flight carried around 40 tonnes of biofuel mix and saved 38 tonnes of CO2 compared to using regular jet kerosene, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of six scheduled flights between Frankfurt and Berlin, claims the airline.

The total cost of the trial amounted to €6.6 million ($8.6m), with a €2.5 million grant contribution from the German government.

“If we want to protect our climate and thus our future in a sustainable manner, we need innovative ideas and technologies and an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels – particularly in view of the growing demand for mobility worldwide,” said Christoph Franz, Chairman of Deutsche Lufthansa’s Executive Board.

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1416

Link:  Lufthansa PureSky (more details of the trial)


 

see also

Lufthansa is ending the trial use of a biofuel mix for its planes because it has used up stocks of certified biofuel and no other reliable supplies are available.

(Reuters)   9.1.2012

…. excerpts …..

The trial, which ran on flights between Frankfurt and Hamburg, will end January 12 on a flight from Frankfurt to Washington.

“Lufthansa will only continue the practical trial if we are able to secure the volume of sustainable, certified raw materials required in order to maintain routine operations,” project manager Joachim Buse said on Monday.

The race to cut carbon dioxide emissions has heated up with the introduction this month of the European Union emissions trading scheme under which airlines must pay for the CO2 they emit.

….

While the airline industry wants to use biofuels to curb emissions, the lack of industrial production means only limited quantities are available.

European airlines, biofuel producers and the EU Commission last year signed a pact aiming to produce 2 million tonnes of biofuel for aviation by 2020.

The environmental benefits of some biofuel mixes have also been called into question as some crops such as palm oil use land that could instead be used to grow crops to feed people.

Other non-plant-based options for creating biofuel include waste and algae. British Airways (ICAG.L) is hoping to start powering its fleet using a fuel derived from waste by 2015, while UK rival Virgin Atlantic plans to start using a waste gases-derived fuel by 2014.

Lufthansa’s Buse said the six-month trial between Frankfurt and Hamburg, which saw one engine of an Airbus A321 powered by a 50:50 blend of regular fuel and biofuel, had been a success.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/09/uk-lufthansa-biofuels-idUSLNE80802I20120109

 

Related GreenAir Online articles:

Lufthansa takes off towards a new era of sustainably fuelled regular commercial scheduled flights
Lufthansa to start regular scheduled biofuel flights this week and announces other fuel-saving and climate initiatives
Lufthansa’s fuel and emissions rose by 10.1 per cent in 2010 but specific fuel consumption falls to record low
Lufthansa Group airlines rack up double-digit increase in carbon emissions in 2010 despite efficiency improvement
Lufthansa to start industry-first scheduled passenger jet biofuel flights in 2011 in partnership with Airbus
Finnair aims to become a launch customer for commercial airline jet biofuel flights in 2011
Delay to certification of aviation jet biofuels may damage investor confidence, claims Lufthansa

Back of envelope calculations:

** CO2 emissions from aviation fuel are 3.15 grams CO2 per gram of fuel burnt (which means 1 tonne of burnt jet fuel emits 3.15 tonnes of CO2).

So 40 tonnes of kerosene would burn to produce 40 x 3.15 tonnes of CO2 = 126 tonnes of CO2.   20 tonnes would produce 63 tonnes of CO2.

Lufthansa say it saved 38 tonnes of CO2 so the 40 tonnes of fuel emitted 88 tonnes of CO2. Therefore the 20 tonnes of biofuel (50%) must have been counted as emitting  88 – 63 = 25 tonnes of CO2.

So they assume that the 20 tonnes of biofuel produced 25 tonnes, compared to 63 tonnes CO2 for conventional kerosene. ie. 40% as much CO2(= a 60% saving).

There is no detail here about what the biofuel actually was, or what its lifecycle was.


see earlier

Lufthansa A321 partially powered (50%) by biofuel to enter service Friday

12th July 2011    Lufthansa plans start its scheduled biofuel flights Friday, launching a 6-month trial in which an IAE V2500-powered Airbus A321 will operate on the Frankfurt-Hamburg route.  It will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene in one engine, and is due to operate 8 daily legs between FRA and HAM. LH estimates it will save around 1,500 tons of CO2 emissions over the 6 months – but give no indication how this figure is obtained.   http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/news/detail.php?art_id=2903

 Germany joins up with Lufthansa to sponsor biofuel 6 times worse than fossil fuels

20th April 2011    The German government is financing Lufthansa’s biofuel trials. A total €2.5 million of government money is being ploughed into the 6 month €6.6 million biofuel trial. A recent report by ActionAid and RSPB found that the development of jatropha plantations would produce 2.5 – 6 times more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels. The German government is wasting taxpayers’ money on a technology that has few environmental benefits, and does much harm.    http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/news/detail.php?art_id=2104

Lufthansa first airline to use biofuel on commercial flights next spring

30th November 2010   In April 2011, Lufthansa is to begin a 6-month trial with an Airbus A321 on scheduled commercial flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt route. Pending certification, one of the aircraft’s engines will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene. The purpose of the project is to conduct a long term study on the effect of biofuel on engine maintenance and life. Lufthansa is the first airline to test this fuel over a long period. The Federal Govt is giving €2.5m for the Lufthansa project.   http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/news/detail.php?art_id=3450


Biofuel approval nears, Lufthansa plans service trial in spring 2011 – fuel partly from palm oil

29th November 2010   With the aviation fuels subcommittee of standards-setter ASTM to meet next week to decide on approval of bio-jet fuels, Lufthansa has announced plans for a 6-month in-service trail of a 50:50 mix of biofuel and conventional kerosene using an Airbus A321.  ASTM has already approved 50% blends of synthetic paraffinic kerosenes (SPKs) produced from coal, natural gas or biomass using the Fischer-Tropsch process. The bio-SPKs may be next, by March 2011.   ttp://www.airportwatch.org.uk/news/detail.php?art_id=1638