The aircraft will use a mix of biofuel and conventional jet fuel for the Sydney-Adelaide return service. Produced by Dutch firm SkyNRG, the fuel has been used by several other airlines.
Qantas says its “life cycle” carbon footprint is around 60 per cent smaller than that of conventional jet fuel. It is part of a long-term plan to reduce a fuel bill that totalled A$3.6 billion last year.
The airline said the goal of the flights was to raise awareness about the potential for sustainable aviation fuel in Australia.
Spokesman Tom Woodward said that while other airlines had run biofuel flights, debate about alternative aviation fuel in Australia had been limited.
The production of biofuels for aviation was now well advanced, he said.
“What we want to do is take the next step and see how we can produce it in Australia.
Bookings for the 90-minute to two-hour flight were solid, he said.
Fuel was the biggest operational cost for Qantas and like other airlines it faced carbon emission charging.
Dutch airline KLM, Chile’s LAN and Finnair have trialled SkyNRG fuels which come from a variety of feedstocks besides used cooking oil.
At the end of 2008 Air New Zealand successfully ran a trial in which it powered a Boeing 747 with a 50:50 blend of imported jatropha biofuel and traditional jet fuel and is looking for local alternatives. Last December it signed an agreement with Australian firm Licella to examine the development and commercialisation of a process to convert woody biomass into biofuel.
Qantas launches biofuel powered commercial flight
Big News Network.com
14th April, 2012
SYDNEY – Qantas Airways Friday launched its first commercial flight using a blend of recycled cooking oil and aviation fuel, in what the airline hopes will be the first step towards a sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia.
A biofuel powered Qantas A330 took to the skies as the airline announced a new $500,000 government-backed effort to study the feasibility of an Australian biofuel industry.
Shell Australia will partner Qantas in the $500,000 Emerging Renewables Program grant with the aim of studying long-term viability of biofuel feedstock and the production of low carbon aviation fuels.
“Australia has the skills, resources and infrastructure to take the lead in this emerging sector,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said at a press conference ahead of the Sydney-Adelaide flight.
Like other airlines, Qantas has been hit hard by high fuel prices over the past two years. Fuel accounts for the largest expense of an airline. To offset the high aviation fuel cost, Qantas has already raised ticket prices twice this year.
In February, the Australian carrier announced plans to slash at least 500 jobs and cut costs after an 83% slump in first-half net profits.
Lufthansa last year became the first airline to establish biofuel powered schedules flights four times daily between Frankfurt and Hamburg aboard an Airbus A321. In Lufthansa’s case the 50% biofuel partly includes animal fats.
The use of 50:50 blend of aviation fuel with recycled cooking oil, sourced from US company SkyNRG, is Qantas’ latest bid to hold down the fuel bills while also cutting emissions.
Last year last year announced a joint venture with Solazyme, a US based company, to study algae based biofuels. Several other airlines are pursuing various biofuel options. One such is an attempt to make eucalyptus based biofuel by Virgin Australia and Airbus.
Though biofuel remains significantly more expensive than conventional jet fuel, Joyce said a shift has become a necessity given the economic and environmental costs of petroleum-based fuels.
“We need to get ready for a future that is not based on traditional jet fuel or frankly we don’t have a future,” he said.
Qantas shift to biofuel is in part dictated by Australia’s move to enforce carbon emission tax from July 1. Europe already imposes a controversial carbon tax on airlines, while New Zealand has a carbon tax that applies to flights within that country.
“From July, Qantas will be the only airline in the world to face liabilities in three jurisdictions, so our sense of urgency is justified,” said Joyce.
Qantas study has found that the certified biofuel it has opted for has a “life cycle” carbon footprint that is about 60 per cent less than that of conventional jet fuel.
At the end of 2011 they were talking about algal biofuel ………..
Qantas, Solazyme and Solena to launch Australian biofuels flights in 2012
Qantas has announced that Australia’s first commercial flight powered by “sustainable” fuel will be in early 2012. Qantas has signed agreements with Solazyme (in the USA), which is working with algae-based aviation fuels, and Solena (in the USA), which is experimenting with waste-based fuels. Qantas hopes to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5% each year. Solarzyme’s fuel is called Solajet, and they aim to scale its production up to commercial levels.
Qantas, Solazyme to launch biofuels flights in 2012
November 14, 2011 (Biofuel Digest)
In Australia, Qantas announced that the country’s first commercial flight powered
by sustainable fuel will be carried out in early 2012.
This year, Qantas has signed agreements with two leading manufacturers of sustainable
aircraft fuel. Solazyme is working with algae-based aviation fuels and Solena
is experimenting with water-based [sic – they probably mean waste based] fuels.
The airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, stated that only the production of sustainable
aviation fuel on a commercial basis could deliver a generational step in emissions
reduction. Qantas is committed to improving fuel efficiency by 1.5 per cent each
Solazyme, Qantas sign aviation biofuels development partnership
February 11, 2011 (Biofuel Digest)
In California, Solazyme announced that it has begun a collaboration with Qantas,
to pursue the potential for commercial production of Solazyme’s microbial derived
aviation fuel, Solajet, in Australia. This represents the first collaboration
in the Asia-Pacific region to explore the use of Solajet in commercial aviation.
There is currently a six billion liter a year demand for aviation fuel in Australia.
Qantas is also working with another US company, Solena, to determine the feasibility
of using MSW for production of biojet fuel.
More on the story.
Last month, we wrote: “At a series of public and private meetings this week on
the Rodeo Drive of algae, North Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla, California, Qantas
confirmed that it is in advanced talks with an unnamed algal biofuels producer
(“with strong ties to Australia”) that are expected to result in a letter of intent
for an offtake agreement for algal jet fuel, with the potential that Qantas may
take a financial stake in the venture.
Qantas’ Peter Broschofsky, who is coordinating the initiative for Qantas as well
as chairing the environment committee of the International Air Transport Association
(IATA), also confirmed that the company, hopes to complete feasibility work on
its first biofuels project within six months. Qantas signed LOI with Solena earlier
this year, and launched what was described at the time as a 12-month investigation
of the potential to develop a 19 million gallon waste-to-jet fuel plant in Australia.
Possible Qantas equity stake?
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is reported to be “putting on the pressure, for the team
to get on with it,” and Broschofsky said that Qantas has not ruled out taking
an investment stake in a biofuels enterprise, though he suggested that any decisions
would be taken after completion of feasibility work. He said that there continued
to be some uneasiness at the Qantas board level on the wisdom of entering the
biofuels sphere as an equity partner.
“Three or four years ago at IATA,” Broschofsky said, “biofuels weren’t even on
the radar; it was in the “too hard” category. But $180 per gallon fuel at the
wing (in 2008) got everyone’s attention – it was a real crisis.” He described
how Boeing galvanized the industry behind the development of the Bio-SPK jet fuel
specification, which most observers are predicting will be approved in the first
half of 2011 and possibly late in the first quarter.
“Watch the flood,” Broschofsky predicted, “after the fuel is certified, interest
will be at a fever pitch, and we want to get in ahead.” He detailed how it was
Boeing’s interest that brought Qantas into the biofuels arena, and Qantas in turn
galvanized broader support within IATA.