Honeywell demo flight in Gulfstream G450 using one engine using 50% biofuel from camelina crosses Atlantic

Honeywell Demo Flight Seeks to Generate Momentum For Aviation Biofuels

18.6.2011  (Wall Street Journal)


Hoping to spark international attention and support for the fledgling concept
of aviation biofuels, Honeywell International Inc. flew a business jet across
the Atlantic on Saturday using a blend of of its vegetable-based “Green Jet Fuel”
and traditional petroleum-based fuel and landed safely at Le Bourget Airport outside

The company said it was the first trans-Atlantic crossing by an aircraft burning
biofuel, and the first major test flight of such fuel by a business jet. Following
much of the path of the historic trans-Atlantic flight of aviation pioneer Charles
Lindbergh, Honeywell said one of the Gulfstream G450’s jet engines was powered
by a blend that included 50% biofuel produced from camelina, a crop that doesn’t
compete with other crops used for use as a food.

According to the New Jersey-based diversified manufacturer of aerospace and industrial
products, the roughly seven-hour flight saved “approximately 5.5 metric tons of
net carbon dioxide emissions compared to the same flight powered by petroleum-based

Coming on the eve of the Paris Air Show, the industry’s largest annual gathering,
the flight was intended to showcase the broad topic of advances in biofuel technology,
as well as Honeywell’s previously reported efforts to license the technology so
its Green Fuel blend could begin to be produced by major refiners. The topic also
has garnered attention because ASTM International, the organization that sets
technical standards, recently approved the use of renewable fuel in jet engines,
opening the door for commercialization of biofuels championed by Honeywell and

Following more than a dozen other commercial and military test flights, Saturday’s
accomplishment demonstrates “we are one step closer to commercial use that will
help the aviation community reduce its carbon footprint and dependence on crude,”
Jim Rekoske, a senior Honeywell biofuel official, said in announcement after the
plane landed. Environmental officials, airline executives and the head of the
Federal Aviation Administration have made similar pronouncements lately, and a
growing number of carriers around the globe have experimented with some type of

Saturday’s achievement may prove particularly influential, according to industry
officials, because the plane’s manufacturer participated in the test and business-jet
operators typically are the first to embrace cutting-edge technologies and applications.

Honeywell said its Green Jet product is a sustainable fuel option that meets
all specifications for flight, without requiring any modifications to aircraft
or engines.

Honeywell said it has produced more than 700,000 gallons of the biofuel from
“inedible sources such as camelina, jatropha and algae,” intended for use
in commercial and military testing. In each of the 16 biofuel flights conducted
so far, according to Honeywell, Green Jet Fuel met all expectations. The company
developed the process to produce the biofuel in 2007, under a Pentagon research
contract, and since then military brass have stressed the advantages of such alternative

Reflecting the industry’s heightened environmental focus, Boeing Co.’s new 747-8
freighter also is scheduled to make history at the Paris Air Show on Sunday, after
crossing the Atlantic using a different blend of Honeywell’s biofuel. As the first
commercial jet to accomplish that feat, Boeing said each of the plane’s four engines
is slated to burn a mixture of 15% green jet fuel and 85% traditional kerosene.

Camelina, which is grown in rotation with certain wheat crops, is only one of
a number of potential biofuel sources identified by Boeing and others. The Chicago
aerospace giant is participating in biofuel studies from Australia and New Zealand
to China, the Middle East and Mexico.

The Paris Air show, which kicks off next week at the famous suburban airfield
outside Paris, is expected to highlight other biofuel initiatives, including some
supported by commercial plane makers and various airlines.

see also

Biofuel jet to make first non-stop trans-ocean flightPlane will fly from US to
Paris air show in first long-distance test of aviation biofuels
17.6.2011 (Guardian)
 by Mark Halper

A Gulfstream 6450 first trans-Atlantic biofuel flights 

A corporate jet is scheduled to make the first ever non-stop trans-ocean flight
powered by biofuels on Friday night when it leaves Morristown, New Jersey, bound
for Paris.

Pilot Ron Weight will take off in a Gulfstream G450 at around 9pm from Morristown
airport, ferrying two American executives from the fuel’s suppliers, Honeywell.
He will land at Paris-Le Bourget airport mid-morning on Saturday.

Importantly, Honeywell has not refitted the Gulfsteam’s engines to accommodate
the fuel.

“We’ve made no changes to the engine or the aircraft, and we are confident that
the plane will perform exactly as it should,” said Weight, a Honeywell employee.

Two days later, pilots Keith Otsuka, Rick Braun and Sten Rossby are scheduled
to trump Weight in distance and aircraft size when they leave for Paris from Everett,
Washington, in a biofuel-powered Boeing 747-8 cargo plane, also using fuel from

Both planes are heading to the Paris air show, where Honeywell and Boeing will
promote biofuels as technically ready to replace conventional petroleum jet fuels
– typically kerosene – and help the airline industry reduce its massive carbon

“This is a great opportunity to show people that this stuff is here today, that
is it is not five or six years off,” said Jim Rekoske, vice president and general
manager of Honeywell’s fuel subsidiary, Honeywell UOP. Rekoske will be on Friday’s
flight, as will Carl Esposito,vice president of Honeywell Aerospace.

The planes will use biofuel processed from camelina, an inedible plant that Honeywell
has helped cultivate in Montana and process for the U.S. military. Friday’s flight
will use a 50/50 mix of biofuel and conventional fuel, while Sunday’s trip from
Washington will be 15% biofuel.

According to Rekoske, they are not using 100% biofuel because petroleum-based
jet fuels contain aromatics that help tighten plastic seals in jet engines. Biofuels
lack aromatics, but a 50/50 blend includes enough to fly safely.

A key American standards body, ASTM, seems to agree. Earlier this month it gave
tentative approval to jet biofuels and said it could issue final approval by 1

That would clear the way for commercial flights. Lufthansa is awaiting final
approval from ASTM before it starts daily flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt
using biofuel from Finland’s Neste Oil.

In the US, Seattle-based alternative fuels producer AltAir Fuels has signed a
memorandum of understanding with 14 airlines to supply biofuel.

Aviation biofuels still face hurdles, with criticism focusing on their environmental
impact and their higher price than conventional fuel. Rekoske thinks price can
decline to a competitive level by 2013.

Read more »

ClientEarth briefing says biofuels should not have a zero emissions factor in the EU ETS

14.6.2011 (Client Earth)
(Biomass here included biofuels for aviation)
ClientEarth‘s legal briefing:
“Bringing the ETS in line with reality: Making biomass emissions count through
the Monitoring and Reporting Regulation”
The briefing argues that the current application of a zero-emission factor to
emissions from biomass used in sectors covered by the ETS does not accurately
reflect actual emissions from biomass and is, moreover, contrary to the principle
underlying the ETS that each operator should be responsible for his own emissions.
EU ETS legislation instructs the European Commission to adopt a Monitoring and
Reporting Regulation by 31 December 2011. 
The briefing by ClientEarth identifies this Monitoring and Reporting Regulation
as an opportunity to correct the current treatment of biomass under the ETS by
eliminating the zero-emissions factor for biomass co-fired with other fuels and
provides specific recommendations for how this might be accomplished.

The briefing first provides an overview of the Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC
and the ETS Directive 2003/87/EC, including how the Renewable Energy Directive
defines the “sustainability” of “biomass” and the deficiencies of its sustainability
It goes on to explain the current treatment of biomass under the ETS and the
provisions of the draft Monitoring and Reporting Regulation that the Commission
is in the course of finalising.
Attention then turns to the scope and objectives of the legislative mandate for
a Monitoring and Reporting Regulation given to the Commission by the ETS Directive,
and the possibilities it offers to realign—at least in part—the treatment of biomass
with its real GHG performance.
The briefing concludes that the Commission can and should take full advantage
of the Directive’s mandate by deleting the zero-emission factor for biomass.
ClientEarth’s legal analysis shows that this is possible under current legislation,
at least insofar as operators using biomass as part of a broader fuel mix are
With regard to operators exclusively using biomass, a legislative procedure may
be required to amend the ETS Directive. This is outside of the remit of the mandate
for the Monitoring and Reporting Regulation. The briefing goes on to recommend
that, unless and until the ETS Directive is amended to include biomass-only installations
within the ETS, ‘biomass’, for the purposes of the ETS, should be defined to include
any sustainability criteria adopted for biofuels, bioliquids, biogas and/or solid
biomass under the remit of the Renewable Energy Directive.
The briefing was provided as part of ClientEarth’s submission to the consultation
on the draft Monitoring and Reporting Regulation that closed on 10 June 2011. 
It can also be accessed at

Some of the people who reviewed preliminary drafts of the briefing raised questions
about how our recommendations should be understood in light of the accounting
rules for biomass under the Kyoto Protocol.  ClientEarth intends to follow up
with a second briefing outlining the relevant reporting frameworks and addressing
these questions. 
A few extracts are:
It is important to point out that, within the framework of the ETS Directive

the term ‘biomass’ is used to refer to any non-fossilised biodegradable material

organic origin, regardless of its state (solid, liquid or gaseous) and of the
sector in

which it is used (transport, heating, electricity generation, etc.). In other
words, under

the ETS ‘biomass’ includes also biofuels and bioliquids.
Significantly, the GHG criterion merely requires that biofuels and bioliquids
result in

specified reductions of GHG emissions as compared to fossil fuels. In other words,

“sustainability” under the Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC does not equate
 to carbon neutrality. Quite the contrary, the Directive assumes that biofuels
and bioliquids

produce positive GHG emissions even when they are sustainable.

Moreover, it is important to stress that the sustainability criteria laid down
in the

Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC overlook important climatic impacts such
as the

carbon debt issue and GHG emissions from indirect land-use changes, which do

appear in the calculation methodologies. In addition, sustainability criteria
for biofuels

and bioliquids fail to take into consideration the cumulative pressure of a dramatic

increase in demand for limited global forest and arable land resources.
The Mistaken Notion that Using Biomass for Energy is Carbon Neutral

The carbon debt of biomass

The idea that bioenergy is carbon neutral because emissions from energy

generation are re-absorbed through biomass re-growth is in fact no more than

mistaken preconception. Scientific analysis does not support the idea of a neat

in which the carbon emitted through burning biomass for energy is re-absorbed

through re-growth―at least not within our lifetime’s scale. Between the moment

carbon is emitted from the combustion of the bioenergy carrier and the moment
it is

re-captured by growing vegetation, the bioenergy system has positive carbon

emissions. Therefore, at least initially, increased reliance on bioenergy amounts

incurring a “carbon debt” with the atmosphere, which will be repaid over time

new biomass grows to replace that which was burned. The significance of the

carbon debt issue on the overall climatic performance of bioenergy depends on

length of the delay between emission and re-absorption. Available science estimates

that shifting to bioenergy produces climatic benefits on a timescale ranging

immediately (e.g., in the case of raw material extracted from new forests grown

land that was previously cropland) to hundreds of years (e.g., when raw material

comes from additional thinnings of natural forests or plantations).

Indirect land-use change

The current methodology for calculating the life-cycle emissions of biofuels

bioliquids does not take into account the effects of indirect land-use change

ILUC occurs when, for example, bioenergy feedstock production displaces

agricultural land and, in turn, forests are converted to agricultural production

order to replace the agricultural lands converted to bioenergy crops. Depending

on the previous uses of the affected lands, ILUC can significantly reduce GHG

of bioenergy—in some cases resulting in emissions that are worse than fossil

being substituted.

When the influence of the carbon debt as well as ILUC concerns are taken into

account, serious doubts arise about the overall GHG performance of bioenergy

it becomes apparent that updated, more encompassing criteria are needed in order

to ensure that only sustainable bioenergy is supported or even allowed23.

Broader environmental impacts of increasing demands on limited forest

and land resources

Moreover, increased pressure on forests and agricultural lands deriving from

increased reliance on biomass threatens to result in deforestation, forest

degradation and biodiversity loss as well as rising food prices which may affect

livelihoods of forest-dependent populations and the world’s poor. Current

regulations in the energy as well as forest sectors at both the European and

Member State levels are inadequate to address these concerns, as a recent report

on the sustainability of woody biomass shows.
Page 11
Currently, under the ETS Directive as implemented by Decision 2007/589/EC for

monitoring and reporting purposes, emissions from bioenergy do not count towards

obligation to surrender allowances. That is, bioenergy is treated as if it did
not produce

any emissions and bioenergy users are de facto subsidised through an exemption

the obligation to surrender allowances. Moreover, because bioenergy emissions
do not

constitute reportable emissions giving rise to an obligation to surrender allowances,

applicable rules allow less accurate monitoring and reporting of bioenergy emissions.

As a result, policy-makers as well as the public are not able to access data
on the actual

level of emissions from bioenergy in the Union.

Read more »

Biofuels From Algae, Wood Chips are approved for use by passenger airlines (USA)


Fuel From Algae, Wood Chips Approved for Airlines, ATA Says

Boeing is test growing halophytes, a salt-tolerant energy crop, in the United
Arab Emirates as part of its renewable fuel supply development. Source: Boeing
via Bloomberg

Airlines won the backing of a U.S.- based technical-standards group to power
their planes with a blend of traditional fuel and biofuel from inedible plants,
Air Transport Association said today.

Fuel processed from organic waste or non-food materials, such as algae or wood
chips, may comprise as much as 50 percent of the total fuel burned to power passenger
flights, ATA spokesman
Steve Lott and a Boeing Co. (BA) official told Bloomberg.

“The real winners of this type of regulatory breakthrough will be technology
companies involved in the production of aviation biofuels,” said Harry Boyle,
an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London. “The biotech-biofuels business
models of
Amyris Inc. (AMRS), Codexis Inc. (CDXS), Gevo Inc. and Solazyme Inc. are all making claims to these types of new markets.”

Other biofuels companies that may benefit from opening up the $139 billion-a-year
aviation fuel market are
Neste Oil Oyj (NES1V) of Finland, Spain’s Abengoa SA and Honeywell International Inc. (HON)’s UOP unit, which is developing a fuel-making technology.

Officials from Neste, Abengoa weren’t available for comment.

The decision to amend jet fuel specifications to include fuels from bio-derived sources “is a tremendous accomplishment
for aviation and the result of tremendous collaboration across the entire industry,”
Boeing Vice President of Environment and Aviation Policy Billy Glover told Bloomberg
News in an e-mail.


“Developing a renewable fuel supply is a critical part of our industry’s strategy
for achieving carbon-neutral growth beyond 2020 and creating a sustainable future
for aviation and the global community it serves,” Glover said.

The preliminary approval was granted this week by the West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based
ASTM International, and it may allow Airbus SAS and
Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) to undertake a six- month trial they plan to start in the coming weeks using
one engine powered 50 percent by biofuel from jatropha, camelina and animal waste.

Final approval will happen on July 1 at the earliest, Barbara Schindler, communications director at ASTM, said today by phone. Airlines
will then be able to begin using bio-derived fuel a week or so thereafter, she

Under their Burnfair project, Airbus and Lufthansa plan to fly using so-called
hydrotreated renewable jet fuel every day, four times a day, from Hamburg to
Frankfurt. Lufthansa is aiming to blend clean fuel with kerosene at up to 10 percent of
the total by 2020. Airbus estimates airlines may consume 30 percent of their fuel
from plant-derived sources by 2030.

General Electric

The 27-nation European Union is prodding airlines toward cleaner fuels by forcing
them to cap emissions or buy permits for the excess beginning next year. Aviation
accounts for about 2 percent of global carbon-dioxide emissions.

General Electric Co., the world’s biggest jet engine maker by sales last year,
said at a 50 percent blend level it doesn’t expect to see any impact on engines
or operability.

Airbus and Boeing, which together manufacture about 80 percent of the world’s
passenger planes, are planning to set up biofuel production chains across the
world. Airbus is working on a supply hub in
India where it’s talking with government and airline officials. Its aim is to form
joint ventures and partnerships with growers, transporters and refiners. Boeing
is negotiating with companies across the supply chain in
South America. Fuel from inedible plants or waste doesn´t put price pressure on crops as can
fuel from corn, sugar cane or soy.

Honeywell, Indian Oil

Honeywell and Indian Oil Corp., the nation’s largest refiner, are planning to
establish a pilot biofuel production plant in India next year, James Rekoske,
vice president of renewable energy at Honeywell’s UOP, said. It would be Honeywell’s
first pilot facility in
Asia and the companies will examine the feasibility of using plants such as jatropha
and pongamia to make renewable jet fuel.

“This will be a tens of millions of dollars investment made by the time we’re
done,” Rekoske said. It’s more expensive to produce diesel from biomass than from
crude oil, he said, estimating the difference at less than $2 a barrel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Louise Downing in London at 

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at 
An article on 10.6.2011 in Biofuels Digest   link  said:
Worldwide demand for aviation fuels is growing fast, primarily due to growth
in the robust Chinese aviation market.
According to the International Energy Agency, aviation fuel demand will reach
“7.6 million barrels per day in 2012, up from about 6.8 million barrels per day
in 2007″. That translates into 116 billion gallons of jet fuel, globally, by 2012. 
With an approval of Bio-SPK, the biofuels industry will have a new path to supply
up to 58 billion gallons of fuel to the sector.
Aviation accounts for 12% of the fuel consumed by the entire transportation sector,
which is equivalent to roughly 1.5 to 1.7 billion barrels of kerosene annually
(about 70 billion gallons).
Analysts project that aviation biofuels will replace roughly 1% of kerosene by
2015, 25% by 2025, and 30% by 2030.
Biofuels Digest said the (USA) private commercial airline industry and the military
collectively use 1.5 million barrels of jet fuel per day. 
link   In 2008, the U.S. Department of Defense used about 119 million barrels of
oil for fuel (not all for planes).
The daily requirement for 13.6 million barrels of jet biofuel by 2050 to meet
the industry target would represent a shift to 90% sustainable biofuels in 2050,
estimates the report’s researchers
[ 13.6 million barrels per day works out at 4.9 billion barrels per year.  This
is well over 6 times current global biofuels production.  AirportWatch calculation.
]   link
The global biofuel production is estimated to reach 1,900 Million barrels in
2020, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% over the forecast period
2015 – 2020.   (That’s about half of current Saudi oil production).

In 2015  there may be around 130 billion litres of biofuel produced
(1 barrel of oil is about 159 litres.  Therefore 130 billion litres is around 0.8 billion barrels.  Compare that with the anticipated
demand of 4.9 billion barrels biofuel by 2050)

Read more »

Runway cleared for aviation biofuels surge in 2012

10.6.2011  (BiofuelsDigest)

by Jim Lane

ASTM* gives preliminary OK to Bio-SPK (Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene) fuel spec;
path to 58 bilion gallon/year aviation biofuels market comes clearer, closer

In Washington, Bloomberg is reporting that ASTM has given preliminary approval to the blending of biofuels produced from algal, jatropha,
municipal waste and other cellulosic feedstocks in aviation fuels. Final approval
is expected no earlier than July 1st, according to ASTM, of the new BIO SPK fuel
standard, which will limit such fuels to 50 percent by weight.

Following final approval of the standard, Lufthansa and Airbus are expected to
begin a six-month commercial trial of a 50 percent biofuel blend, on four flights
per day operating between Frankfurt and London.

Cautionary note. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst predicted that “The real winners of this
type of regulatory breakthrough will be technology companies involved in the production
of aviation biofuels. The biotech-biofuels business models of Amyris Inc., Codexis
Inc., Gevo Inc. and Solazyme Inc. are all making claims to these types of new
markets.” Amyris and Gevo are not producing Bio-SPK fuels and are not directly
impacted by the announcement – although Solazyme will receive a potential direct
impact for its Bio-SPK-based Solajet fuel, which it is producing in large test
quantities for the US Navy among other customers..

Other airlines are expected to follow rapidly with flight trials, and on the
sidelines of the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference this past April, aviation
experts predicted a number of new offtake agreements between producers and airlines,
following approval of the standard.

The Bio SPK standard relates to hydrotreated oils produced from waste, non-food
oilseeds such as jatropha or camelina, oil recovered from organisms such as microalgae
or cyanobacteria, or oil produced from animal wastes in the rendering process.

Many companies can or have trialled the UOP hydrotreating process, including
Sapphire Energy, Solazyme, Terasol and Sustainable Oils.   In the process, excess oxygen content is removed from the oil feedstocks
to produce bio-based synthetic paraffinic kerosene, which is used as jet fuel
under one of a variety of fuel specs, including Jet A, JP-4, JP-5, JP-7 or JP-8.

Other companies that could enter the aviation fuel space include Neste Oil and Dynamic Fuels, which use hydrotreating to produce renewable diesel.  In addition, the fuel
spec would make it possible for almost any producer of virgin or used oils, such
as waste cooking oil, to potentially enter into what is expected to be a fast-growing market for renewable jet fuels.

Fuel performance

Kerosene is a powerful fuel.  A 12-carbon, fuel-grade kerosene – RP-1- is mixed
with liquid oxygen to power the first stage of a Saturn V launch vehicle. Five
F-1 rocket engines can generate up to 217 million horsepower.

Kerosene also has excellent performance in cold temperatures compared to other
high density fuels, such as diesel, and is used as an additive to diesel, for
example, to halt gelling at low temperatures.

More on Bio-SPK performance from Boeing

Last year, Boeing released an excellent white paper on the topic, the Evaluation of Bio-Derived Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosenes”,
which is also downloadable from the Digest’s BIZ database of useful public documents
relating to biofuels.
It can be downloaded here.

Additional bio-based fuel specs and opportunities

There is another fuel spec, approved some time ago, which relates to bio-based
fuels produced using the Fischer-Tropsch process. Rentech is among the leading
companies producing this fuel, which is already approved for use and was the subject
of a 13-airline offtake agreement at LAX, announced last year. Rentech is also
working with UOP for unionfining, unicracking and dewaxing technologies.

In addition, several companies are developing technologies that will produce
jet fuels directly from fermentation, or from catalytic conversion processes.
Companies pursuing this track include Cobalt Technologies, Gevo, Amyris, Joule
Unlimited, and Virent. The latest guidance from Amyris suggests that they expect
to see approval and commercial-scale production of those fuels by mid-decade.

The market and drivers for aviation fuels.

Worldwide demand for aviation fuels is growing fast, primarily due to growth
in the robust Chinese aviation market.
According to the International Energy Agency, aviation fuel demand will reach
“7.6 million barrels per day in 2012, up from about 6.8 million barrels per day
in 2007″. That translates into 116 billion gallons of jet fuel, globally, by 2012. 
With an approval of Bio-SPK, the biofuels industry will have a new path to supply
up to 58 billion gallons of fuel to the sector.

Among demand drivers for Bio-SPK are the prospect of big carbon credit payments
by airlines operating into, out of, or within Europe. Commencing in January 2012,
the airline industry is scheduled to enter into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme,
which will cap carbon emission levels, and is expected to cost airlines up to
$19 billion in 2012 alone,
according to a March report from Point Carbon.

Aviation accounts for 12% of the fuel consumed by the entire transportation sector,
which is equivalent to roughly 1.5 to 1.7 billion barrels of kerosene annually
(about 70 billion gallons).
Analysts project that aviation biofuels will replace roughly 1% of kerosene by
2015, 25% by 2025, and 30% by 2030.
 This represents a market value of US $2 billion, $56 billion, and $68 billion
in delivered fuel respectively, assuming current kerosene prices.

The use of Bio-SPK fuel, in a 50 percent blend, would eliminate all those carbon
payments. In addition, airlines cite corporate sustainability programs as well
as supply chain diversification among reasons that they are taking such a strong
interest in Bio-SPK. Unlike, for example the passenger car market, which has carbon-mitigation
options such as hybrids and electric vehicles, biofuels are generally agreed as
the primary tool for aviation emissions reduction over the next 30 years, in conjunction
with increases in fuel efficiency.

Potential producers

More on the potential producers, and the status of their project development,
can be gleaned from the Digest’s Advanced Biofuels Project Database, which was
most recently updated last month, and can be downloaded for free, via the Digest’s
Bioenergy Information Zone (BIZ) collection of reports and data on biofuels development.
The Project Database can be downloaded here.

More Coverage on this Topic
ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials
(ASTM), is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international
voluntary consensus standards. Today, some 12,000 ASTM standards are used around
the world to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access
and trade, and build consumer confidence

Read more »

US military using 119 million barrels oil per year, now want 50% biofuel by 2020

The Defense Department Is a Significant Driver of New Technology

June 3, 2011   (Biofuels Digest)
by Jim Lane |


By Brent Erickson, Digest columnist,

Executive VP, Industrial Environmental Section, BIO
[BIO   is the Biotechnical Industry Organisation, in the USA]
(Bias warning – article written by the biotechnology industry)
To carry out military and humanitarian missions around the world, U.S. forces
require reliable fuel supplies and secure supply lines. The military is as much
at the mercy of high oil and gasoline prices as the average consumer. And, oil
often comes from regions of the world that are not U.S. military allies. Energy
independence is therefore a national security issue.

U.S. troops, their trucks, ships and airplanes use close to 2 percent of the
nation’s energy on an annual basis, making the military a small but significant
consumer of fuel. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Defense used about 119 million
barrels of oil for fuel.

To turn this around, the DOD has set goals to reduce its energy demand and increase
its use of renewable energy – acquiring 50 percent of supplies from renewable
sources that meet U.S. greenhouse gas emission initiatives by 2020.   [All probably more for energy security reasons than any desire to reduce climate
According to the DOD’s Quadrennial Defense Review in 2010, it views fuel efficiency
and access to fuel supplies in friendly countries around the world as important
“force multipliers.” They increase the military’s ability to operate where needed
while limiting the number of combat forces needed to protect supply lines..

Navy Director for Operational Energy Chris Tindal reviewed progress on the Navy’s
plans to deploy a Great Green Fleet powered by renewable and low-carbon energy
by 2016 in a speech this month at BIO’s World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology
in Toronto. According to Tindal, “We want to be able to pull into different ports
around the globe and be able to refuel on biofuels.” In other words, the Navy
does not want to sail its Great Green Fleet with a long convoy of tankers providing
the fuel, as this would recreate the need to protect a long supply line – a disadvantage
similar to the current reliance on oil.

Advanced biofuels represent the best option for meeting military needs. Tactical
biorefineries can be established in strategic locations, such as Hawaii or other
friendly countries, making use of local feedstocks to produce sustainable biofuels
for the military.

The Navy and Air Force have both worked with biofuel suppliers to conduct tests
and certify that biofuels meet exacting requirements for performance and cost.
For instance, Solazyme – a California algae oil producer –delivered to the Navy
20,000 gallons of jet and diesel from algae, the largest amount of advanced biofuel
ever produced. And Sustainable Oils – a renewable fuel producer in Montana – supplied
camelina-based bio-jet fuel for a 2010 test flight at supersonic speeds of the
U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 “Green Hornet” aircraft.

There is a potential to benefit civilian aviation as well. As Tindal noted in
his speech, the military can help biotech and algae biofuel companies scale up
their technologies and drive prices down by acting as an early adopter. The U.S.
military exercises sufficient purchasing power to drive development of new fuels
in sufficient quantities at the right price. The private commercial airline industry and the military collectively use 1.5
million barrels of jet fuel per day.

There are legislative efforts that would help the military become the technology
leader in scaling up commercial production of sustainable biofuels, such as algae.
BIO supports legislation allowing the Department of Defense to engage in long-term
contracts for purchasing biofuels. These contracts would provide significant market
stability for small companies trying to commercialize new technologies and would
help them to attract private investment to build the small biorefineries in strategic
locations around the world that the military needs.

Read more »

UK scientists launch scathing criticism of EU biofuel targets (road traffic)

(Road Traffic – but the key criticisms of these biofuels transfer to the biofuels
that the aviation industry intends to use)
2nd June, 2011 (Ecologist)

Claims that biofuels have lower greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels are
‘complete nonsense’ and EU-wide targets to increase their use should be scrapped
says letter to transport minister

A global ‘land grab’ and increased loss of forests and other natural ecosystems
is being driven by European targets for more transport fuel to come from biofuels,
say a group of prominent UK scientists.

The EU has a target for 10 per cent of total transport fuel to be derived from
renewable sources by 2020. Observers estimate the vast majority of these targets
will be met by biofuels, mainly sourced from food crops, such as oil seeds, palm
oil, sugar cane, beet and wheat.

The UK is currently aiming to reach 5 per cent of fuel from renewable sources
by 2013 and admits that 90 per cent or more of the increase to 10 per cent by
2020 will be met by crop-based biofuels.

The biofuels target was originally designed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions
but in a letter sent to the transport minister Philip Hammond, and seen by the
Ecologist, 19 prominent scientists from across the UK say crop-based biofuels will actually ‘substantially increase

According to the scientists, in a rush to promote biofues both the UK and EU
had failed to take account of two factors – the high-use of nitrogen fertilisers
and land-use change brought about by the increasing demand for land to grow biofuel
crops instead of food.

‘The additional demand for grains, oilseeds and sugars brought about by increased
biofuel production will indirectly bring about the conversion of land currently
under forest or other natural ecosystem into agricultural land, with the concomitant
release into the atmosphere of carbon stored in trees and soil,’ says the letter.

Professor Keith Smith, of University of Edinburgh, one of the letter’s co-authors, says the release of carbon dioxide would be
‘huge’ compared to the savings from the crops taking in CO2 from the atmosphere
to grow. He says another factor, emissions related to fertiliser-use, was also
being ignored.

‘There has been a naivety that biofuels are carbon neutral but when we count
the fossil fuel energy going into biofuels from fertiliser use and then also the
nitrous oxide emissions from using nitrogen fertilisers, the emissions are even
higher,’ says Professor Smith.

Both the UK and EU have been under heavy pressure from environmentalists ever
since they announced the targets for biofuels. In April a high-profile report from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics called the targets ‘unethical’ because
they contributed to higher greenhouse gas emissions, food price rises and deforestation.

A UK consultation on how it will meet its renewable fuel targets is due to close today. In their
open letter the scientists urge the UK to ‘provide leadership’ by only accepting
biofuels that are proven to reduce emissions and do not contribute to food insecurity
or conflicts over land.

Action Aid, which claims the biofuels targets will lead to massive surge in hunger in less industrialised countries, has urged the UK to look at obtaining biofuels
from real waste rather than crops and promoting electric cars as alternatives
to meeting the EU renewable transport targets.

Read more »

World Economic Forum report identifies biofuels as the ‘game changer’ to achieve aviation emission targets

23.5.2011 (GreenAir online)
An aviation sustainability report from the World Economic Forum finds that achieving the industry’s target of halving its carbon emissions by
2050 will be a significant challenge given an 85% CO2 emissions reduction gap.
This is despite a significant and continuous $6 trillion investment by airlines
in newer and more fuel-efficient aircraft expected during the timeframe. The report
identifies four key levers to reduce aviation carbon emissions:
– improving aviation infrastructure,
– increasing aircraft R&D,
– accelerating scale-up of aviation biofuels and
– implementing market-based measures.
It says biofuels could help bypass long aircraft lifetimes that limit the CO2
efficiency improvement potential of other technological innovations but 13.6 million
barrels of sustainable second generation biofuels with significantly lower lifecycle
CO2 emissions would be required daily by 2050 to meet the target.

The report says it is unlikely that governments will be able to provide all the
necessary funds for the implementation of the necessary technological and infrastructure
improvements and it will require the involvement of capital markets, private equity
and, for developing countries, the multilateral development banks to fill in the
financial gaps.

According to analysis by World Economic Forum and its partner on the report,
Booz & Company, demand for passenger and cargo is projected to grow by 4.5%
per year, from 540 billion revenue tonne kilometres in 2010 to 3,000 billion in
Carbon emissions are forecast to increase at a slower annual average rate of
3% a year, from 630 million tonnes in 2010 to around 2,000 million tonnes in 2050,
assuming industry fleet improvements take place to replace old aircraft and cover
demand growth with newer more fuel and CO2 efficient aircraft.
As such, the gap between the 2 billion tonnes base case and the industry target
of 330 million tonnes in 2050 would equal almost three times today’s total aviation
CO2 emissions.

“Significant leadership opportunities need to be taken by the industry to ensure
it can grow and still reach its CO2 targets,” says the report.

It advises the industry to inform and educate policy-makers on the criticality
and urgency of implementing aviation infrastructure improvements such as the US
NextGen and the Single European Sky air traffic management projects. Industry
should also work with policy-makers to develop financial and legal incentives
to increase investment into incremental R&D for radical new aircraft technologies
and to drive vertical partnerships with stakeholders along the entire biofuel
value chain.

It also calls for industry to actively engage and support governments working
with ICAO in the development of a global sectoral approach on market-based measures
for aviation through partnerships with experts from the carbon finance community,
and ensure that any measures that are developed focus on incentivising the parties
best placed to make the CO2 abatement investment.

Positive fiscal incentives are seen as having the most potential to increase
investment in reducing carbon by the aviation industry. Given that the report
had a considerable input from airline and aviation interests, it unsurprisingly
rejects green taxes and levies that are currently being implemented or discussed
in different countries. It cautions that “taxes usually result in a net outflow
of funds from the industry that inhibits investment in CO2 reduction projects.”

The report argues that only a limited indirect effect on emissions reduction
is likely to occur with such measures through the cost increase of air travel
if carriers pass costs on to customers and the resulting likely slight decrease
in air traffic. “In addition, the potential macroeconomic effect of more expensive
and thus reduced air travel on GDP and economic development must be considered,”
it says, adding that aviation is an important enabler for the trade of goods,
tourism, services and the socioeconomic development of nations.

The daily requirement for 13.6 million barrels of jet biofuel by 2050 to meet
the industry target would represent a shift to 90% sustainable biofuels in 2050,
estimates the report’s researchers
[ 13.6 million barrels per day works out at 4.9 billion barrels per year.  This
is well over 6 times current global biofuels production.  AirportWatch calculation.
Jürgen Ringbeck, Senior VP and aviation expert at Booz & Company, said the
biggest challenge would be in building up the supply of sustainable biofuels and promoting their prioritisation for use in the aviation sector.

“The sector’s move to biofuels requires significant investments to achieve a
quantum leap in technology and increase production,” he said. “The necessary market
dynamics will only develop if governments set the right incentives for the agricultural
sector, energy producers and the airlines to incubate a global aviation biofuel
production system. Due to the early stage of development and high risks involved
with aviation biofuels, a new innovative approach of all involved stakeholders
is required.”

The Geneva-based World Economic Forum said it hopes the report will lead industry
and government stakeholders to engage in a wider discussion among themselves and
with non-governmental communities to “build a practical enabling environment that
should be conducive to catalysing a step change in private sector action to decrease
aviation CO2 emissions, develop and deploy revolutionary existing and new technologies,
and provide sustainable investment choices at scale and speed.”

The report is the outcome of a year-long collaboration among leaders in the aviation,
energy and financial services industries, governments, universities and international


World Economic Forum – ‘Policies and Collaborative Partnership for Sustainable
Aviation’ report (download)

By comparison 
 The global biofuel production is estimated to reach 1,900 Million barrels in
2020, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% over the forecast period
2015 – 2020.   (That’s about half of current Saudi oil production).
In 2015  there may be around 130 billion litres of biofuel produced,3343,en_2649_37401_40054096_1_1_1_1,00.html
(1 barrel of oil is about 159 litres.  Therefore 130 billion litres is around 0.8 billion barrels.  Compare that with the anticipated
demand of 4.9 billion barrels biofuel by 2050)

Read more »

MIT analysis emphasises the large variability in greenhouse gas emissions from jet biofuel production

24.5.2011 (GreenAir online)

One solution to the land-use problem may be to explore crops like salicornia
that don’t require deforestation or fertile soil to grow  


There’s a race afoot to give wings to biofuels in the aviation industry as part
of an effort to combat soaring fuel prices and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2008, Virgin Atlantic became the first commercial airline to fly a plane on
a blend of biofuel and petroleum. Since then, a number of airlines around the
world have flown biofuel test flights, and Lufthansa is racing to be the first
carrier to run daily flights on a biofuel blend.
However, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say the
industry may want to cool its jets and make sure it has examined biofuels’ complete
carbon footprint before making an all-out push, reports Jennifer Chu, MIT News
Office. They say that when a biofuel’s origins are factored in – for example,
taking into account whether the fuel is made from palm oil grown in a clear-cut
rainforest – conventional fossil fuels may sometimes be the greener choice.

“What we found was that technologies that look very promising could also result
in high emissions, if done improperly,” says James Hileman, principal research
engineer in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, who has published
the results of a study conducted with MIT graduate students Russell Stratton and
Hsin Min Wong in the online version of the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
“You can’t simply say a biofuel is good or bad – it depends on how it’s produced
and processed, and that’s part of the debate that hasn’t been brought forward.”

Hileman and his team performed a life-cycle analysis of 14 fuel sources, including
conventional petroleum-based jet fuel and ‘drop-in’ biofuels: alternatives that
can directly replace conventional fuels with little or no change to existing infrastructure
or vehicles. In a previous report, ‘Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Alternative
Fuels’ for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Partnership for Air Transportation
Noise and Emissions Reduction (PARTNER), they calculated the emissions throughout
the life cycle of a biofuel, ‘from well to wake’ – from acquiring the biomass
to transporting it to converting it to fuel, as well as its combustion.

“All those processes require energy,” Hileman says, “and that ends up in the
release of carbon dioxide.”

In the current Environmental Science and Technology paper, Hileman considered
the entire biofuel life cycle of diesel engine fuel compared with jet fuel, and
found that changing key parameters can dramatically change the total greenhouse
gas emissions from a given biofuel.

In particular, the team found that emissions varied widely depending on the type
of land used to grow biofuel components such as soy, palm and rapeseed. For example,
Hileman and his team calculated that biofuels derived from palm oil emitted 55
times more carbon dioxide if the palm oil came from a plantation located in a
converted rainforest rather than a previously cleared area. Depending on the type
of land used, biofuels could ultimately emit 10 times more carbon dioxide than
conventional fuel.

“Severe cases of land-use change could make coal-to-liquid fuels look green,”
says Hileman, noting that by conventional standards, “coal-to-liquid is not a
green option.”

Hileman says the airline industry needs to account for such scenarios when thinking
about how to scale up biofuel production. The problem, he says, is not so much
the technology to convert biofuels – companies like Choren and Rentech have successfully
built small-scale biofuel production facilities and are looking to expand in the
near future. Rather, Hileman says the challenge is in allocating large areas of
land to cultivate enough biomass, in a sustainable fashion, to feed the growing
demand for biofuels.

He says one solution to the land-use problem may be to explore crops like algae
and salicornia that don’t require deforestation or fertile soil to grow. Scientists
are exploring these as a fuel source, particularly since they also do not require
fresh water. 

Total emissions from biofuel production may also be mitigated by a biofuel’s
by-products. For example, the process of converting jatropha to biofuel also yields
solid biomass: for every kilogram of jatropha oil produced, 0.8 kilograms of meal,
1.1 kilograms of shells and 1.7 kilograms of husks are created. These co-products
could be used to produce electricity, for animal feed or as fertiliser. Hileman
says that this is a great example of how co-products can have a large impact on
the carbon dioxide emissions of a fuel.

Hileman says his analysis is one lens through which policymakers can view biofuel
production. In making decisions on how to build infrastructure and resources to
support a larger biofuel economy, he says researchers also need to look at the
biofuel life cycle in terms of cost and yield.

“We need to have fuels that can be made at an economical price, and at large
quantity,” Hileman says. “Greenhouse gases are just part of the equation, and
there’s a lot of interesting work going on in this field.” 

The study is the culmination of four years of research by Hileman, Stratton and
Wong. The work was funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and Air Force
Research Labs.


Environmental Science & Technology – Quantifying Variability in Life Cycle
Greenhouse Gas Inventories of Alternative Middle Distillate Transportation Fuels

PARTNER ‘Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Alternative Fuels’ report (5.30MB
More aviation biofuels stories

Read more »

$70 billion investment required to meet aviation biofuel ambitions, although industry denies setting target

13.5.2011 (Green Air Online)
An investment of up to $70 billion will be required to meet aviation biofuel
targets, and is needed now, said Mitch Hawkins, the CEO of BioJet International,
a company that aims to become a leading global feedstock producer and supplier
of renewable jet fuel.
Speaking at this week’s IATA Aviation Fuel Forum in Singapore, he noted the industry
had set a target of 6 per cent of jet fuel coming from sustainable biofuels by
2020 but because of the lead times involved, he said the multi-billion investment
would have to start flowing immediately to achieve the goal.
The EU recently set out its ambitions for biofuels to make up 40 per cent of
the overall aviation mix by 2050. Meanwhile, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG),
the industry umbrella organisation, has since clarified its position on aviation
biofuel targets, saying they had not been set.
Hawkins told the conference he had based his calculation on the overall investment
needed by using just one of the identified feedstocks of jatropha, camelina, algae
or waste biomass. Using jatropha as the main feedstock, for example, would require
an investment of around $30 billion to fund 2,000 farms of 10,000 hectares each,
he said. Similarly, if it was camelina then an investment of $34 billion would
be needed to cover 8,500 farms. In addition, he estimated $34 billion would be
required to build 67 bio-refining plants at a cost of $350 million to $500 million
With recent public offerings raising funds of around $100 million each for major
biofuels players, “the numbers just don’t wash,” said Hawkins.
BioJet, an Alternative Fuels Strategic Partner of IATA, itself received a $1.2
billion funding commitment from Equity Partners Fund in February and has since
announced a number of deals. The company has just agreed to merge with Florida-based
Abundant Biofuels, a leading international feedstock developer that controls over
4 million hectares in 10 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Abundant
claims to have sufficient nursery seed stock to develop jatropha plantations over
the next three years capable of producing more than 20 million barrels of biofuel.
Commenting on the agreement, Abundant Group Chairman Charles Fishel said: “Competitors
either focus solely on refining or only on the production of feedstock. BioJet
will be one of the few, if not the only, international biofuels company that can
control all of its feedstock. This provides BioJet with the ability to control
its internal allocation of resources for a significant cost control advantage
while other companies are subject to severe fluctuations in cost and availability
of feedstocks.”
BioJet’s Hawkins said the Abundant merger would be a major step in his company’s
goal of becoming the world’s largest owner and developer of feedstock for renewable
jet fuel and green diesel. “Ownership and control of feedstock is the absolute
key to all biofuels,” he added.
Two weeks ago, BioJet entered into a strategic relationship with Avjet Biotech
(ABI), a developer of small distributive refining systems in the 10 to 15 million
gallon-per-year range. Under the agreement, BioJet will use ABI’s patented RWR
System to build refineries to produce aviation biofuels from native feedstocks
at locations around the globe.
The RWR System uses a thermal catalytic process to refine any triglyceride (the
main constituent of vegetable oils and animal fats) into aviation biofuels. The
technology is under development for sale as a small distributive refining system
to global entities or foreign governments that aspire to produce aviation biofuels
from native feedstocks, says ABI. Last month, ABI announced that it had concluded
a licence agreement to secure exclusive rights to a technology portfolio developed
at North Carolina State University for producing biofuels from triglycerides and
for producing products from genetically modified marine microalgae.
As the exclusive licensee for the commercialisation of these technologies, ABI
will sell stock and use the funds raised to reimburse the university for its investment
in patent applications, as well as allocate development capital to create a continuous
production model for the biofuel refining system. “This agreement is a major piece
in our plan to provide aviation biofuels internationally,” said ABI CEO Don Evans.
Meanwhile, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), which represents the aviation
industry on environmental issues, has said that there is at present no actual
industry target for the use of biofuels. In its March 2011 publication ‘Powering
the Future of Flight’, ATAG said the sector was “striving to practically replace
6% of our fuel in 2020 with biofuel – we hope this figure can be higher.” However,
ATAG’s Haldane Dodd cautions against using the figure as an industry commitment.
“Aviation biofuels are at a tipping point in the next few years. We will have
approval to use a new generation of biofuels on passenger flights in the coming
months. The big challenge now is commercialisation. We need to get significant
quantities of cost-competitive, sustainably-sourced biofuel coming on stream in
order to fulfil our broader climate target of reducing emissions by 50% by 2050,”
he told GreenAir Online.
“The big question is how much can we get and by when? At this stage, we just
don’t know. We have used the 6% figure, certainly not as a goal or target, but
by way of saying this much could practically be produced by 2020 – given the right
fiscal incentives and signals, particularly from governments.
“You have to remember this is an industry at a very early stage, but it is evolving
very rapidly – from nothing to certification in just over three years. Already
we have airlines signing forward purchase agreements and indeed contracts with
biofuel suppliers. The investment community is starting to wake up and increasing
interest is being shown to invest in this new energy source. Governments are also
identifying aviation as the most effective place to use sustainable biofuels.
Europe, in its recent transport white paper, has identified that biofuel use should
be prioritised for aviation because other transport modes have alternative energy
“We have identified in our ‘Powering the Future of Flight’ document a set of
steps that governments can take to help get aviation biofuels off the ground.
We are not necessarily looking for subsidies – unlike many oil companies – but
we do want sustainable aviation biofuels to be given a boost, particularly in
the early years to help bring the cost differential down.
“It is very true that a lot of investment is needed to get to 1% biofuel use
in aviation, let alone 6% or 40%. We fully expect that. But last year, airlines
spent $140 billion on fuel. This year, it could be as high as $175 billion and
we are not seeing any relief in the medium term from oil price rises. Over $35
billion price differential year-on-year would say that there is significant scope
for development of alternative sources. There is a big market out there for those
that want to invest.
“The important thing is that there is no actual industry-wide target for biofuels
as of yet.”
A major US-led initiative to promote aviation biofuels on the international stage
will take place during next month’s Paris Air Show, which aims to showcase current
developments and bring together suppliers, airline customers, investors and government
representatives. A number of leading biofuel companies are expected to take part
and an Investors’ Day is planned for Wednesday, 22 June.


BioJet International

Abundant Biofuels

Avjet Biotech (Red Wolf Refining)

IATA Aviation Fuel Forum – Singapore (pdf)

ATAG – ‘Powering the Future of Flight’ (1mb PDF)

Paris Air Show

Read more »

Iberia and AENA invest in algae biofuel project in Madrid

3.5.2011 (Flightglobal)

Iberia has teamed up with Spanish airports operator AENA and AlgaEnergy to establish
a microalgae-based biofuel research project at Madrid Barajas Airport.

The facility, in which an initial €600,000 ($539,622) has been invested, will
be located near the airport’s Terminal 4 and will become operational next month.

The research plant will capture and use carbon dioxide from Iberia’s aircraft
engine bench test facility, which would otherwise have been emitted into the atmosphere.

The eventual aim is to produce biofuel that can be used to power aircraft as
well as airport ground vehicles.

Oil company Repsol plans to convert the biomass oils into biofuel.

Read more »