Heathrow Terminal 2 to be powered by woodchip biomass – with dubious and extravagant “green” claims

Heathrow airport, and the planes that fly to and from it,  is one of the highest emitters of carbon in the country. Its emissions are larger than several smaller countries. Yet the airport is now trying to be “green” by doing various things to reduce the emissions in the airport itself. The latest is having a biomass boiler for its Terminal 2 which is part of a green-washing campaign, with the airport trying to overcome its negative environmental impacts.  Heathrow claim this will be the “UK’s biggest biomass boiler, and that it will cut the airport’s CO2 emissions by 34% against 1990 levels (the Terminal was not built then …). The boiler is meant to provide 2MW of electricity, hot water and cooling for data centres, and save up to “13,000 tonnes of CO2” per year.  Heathrow says Woodchip supplier LG Energy  won the 15-year contract with Heathrow on the condition that it would provide all of the biomass from a 100-mile radius around the airport.  Some 75% of it will come from just 50 miles away, including from London’s Wetlands Centre in Barnes, as well as Richmond Park. LG Energy claims the sale of the timber is enabling more conservation work to be done, so benefiting more habitat and more biodiversity.  Biomass, on a large scale, not carefully, locally sourced is likely to be very far from sustainable.



UK’s biggest biomass plant prepares for Heathrow take-off

Environmentalists may be wary of the airport’s expansion plans, but Heathrow is about to take a big step towards cutting its carbon emissions

By Jessica Shankleman (Business Green)

17 Mar 2014

Deep in London’s vast Richmond Park, deer roam, bats roost, even stag beetles scurry among the soil. And then every few minutes the serenity is broken as a plane glides low in the sky towards the nearby Heathrow Airport.

Such is the level of frustration felt by many locals over the noise, air pollution and traffic congestion created by the giant transport hub that its expansion plans have become a key election issue, with local Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith threatening to quit the Conservative Party if it backs a third runway in its next manifesto.

The debate may have died down temporarily, but the government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is set to revive it this summer when it reports on the impact of the plans on the UK’s climate commitments.

CCC chief executive David Kennedy has already warned that the cost of long-haul flights would need to rise by up to £200 to curtail demand and stay within the UK’s carbon emissions targets.

With one of the UK’s biggest planning battles on their hands, Heathrow executives have swiftly realised that if they do want to expand the airport, they have to demonstrate they can run it in a responsible manner, tackling as many of the negative environmental impacts as possible, while also maximising economic and social benefits for the area.

As such, when Heathrow throws open the doors of its new Terminal 2 (T2) in June, it will be fitted to high energy efficiency standards and will be powered, heated, and cooled by the UK’s biggest biomass boiler.

The 10MW biomass combined cooling and heating plant (CCHP) costs around £8.5m and is expected to play a major role in helping Heathrow meet its target of cutting carbon emissions by 34 per cent against 1990 levels, by meeting 20 per cent of T2’s energy needs, including 2MW of electricity, hot water and cooling for data centres.

The boiler is already meeting a low level of demand from the builders of T2, but once the new hub is operating at full pelt, with 20 million passengers passing through the gates each year, it is expected to save Heathrow 13,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year compared with a scenario where it burnt only gas and bought grid electricity.

Matt Gorman, director of sustainability for Heathrow, says curbing harmful environmental impacts will be a key plank of the airport’s future growth plans. “Heathrow is a big busy international airport and needs energy, so we set out clearly our commitment to power it in the most environmentally sustainable way in order to play our role in meeting the government’s carbon reduction targets,” he tells BusinessGreen.

He also dismisses concerns that the biomass plant risks acting as a green sheen on Heathrow’s otherwise carbon heavy expansion plans. “It’s absolutely clear that air travel brings real benefits and there’s particular demand to emerging economies and Heathrow serves those particularly well,” he says. “It’s also clear that aviation has environmental impacts and if we are to be successful in growing, we need to be able to tackle those. We studied these issues very carefully when we submitted our proposals to the independent commission that’s been set up to look at airport capacity.”

Significantly, woodchip supplier LG Energy only won the 15-year contract with Heathrow on the condition that it would provide all of the biomass from a 100-mile radius around the airport. In fact, three-quarters of it will come from just 50 miles away, including from London’s Wetlands Centre in Barnes, as well as Richmond Park.

Mark Lebus, managing director of LG, says the scheme is already creating benefits to the local environment, by ensuring that many previously unmanaged woodlands are now better looked after. “The introduction of this system here has a direct link to rural benefit in terms of the management of woodlands,” he tells BusinessGreen. “Over half the woodlands in the country are not being managed and we have direct links to more than 70 estates in this area – a lot of which are now coming back into woodland management as a result of this project.”

One such area is Richmond Park, which is now using the money from the sale of timber to manage parts of the park that previously lay untouched and were said to have been failing to maximise their biodiversity potential.

The Royal Parks has already chopped down and delivered hundreds of unwanted Turkey Oaks that were planted in the 1950s, when postwar Britain was desperate for timber. But in fact, the oaks are thought to do more damage than good to wildlife habitats, creating shade that prevents undergrowth sprouting.

In place of the Turkey Oak, the Park is replanting Holly and Hazel trees designed to encourage more bats, insects, and other wildlife to the area.

Adam Curtis, assistant manager for Richmond Park, says the programme is already delivering benefits, as more insects and shrubbery have appeared where the canopy of the Turkey Oaks once stood.

“[Without this deal with LG Energy] the area would have stayed as it was or we would have had to found the money to do the work,” he said. “The Turkey Oaks would have continued to suppress the light on the rest of the woodland, shading out our veteran trees that are actually suffering from living in the shade.”

LG Energy’s broad array of potential woodland to source from means that it never demands too much from one area and ensures the biomass can all be certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council, addressing concerns that demand for biomass could fuel unsustainable deforestation.

Heathrow’s multi-million pound investment in the largest project of its kind to date has already been applauded by some green groups, such as WWF, which commended its clear contribution to increasing habitat diversity.

However, the reaction of Heathrow’s most vocal environmental critics to this innovative green project remains to be seen.




There are some very real concerns about Heathrow getting into dependence on biomass, provided on a large scale.
Provided they can genuinely obtain local wood and timber products from within a 50 or 100 mile radius of Heathrow, and they are thus paying for conservation work to be done – well and good.
However, much of the timber from local conservation projects may already have a use closer to where it is cut.  Much of this sort of wood is sold locally to people who heat their homes with wood, using wood burning stoves, or even wood fires.  There is no great benefit in  Heathrow taking this and claiming to be so “green” if it merely displaces the need for less sustainable wood elsewhere, by increasing the overall demand for energy.
Any other burner of biomass will not be able to use the material that Heathrow is taking, so other users may be forced to look further afield for their supplies.  It is not possible, in a joined up and very inter-linked world, to isolate out a particularly green and virtuous source of feedstock – this has indirect impacts on other users.
Biomass power stations produce emissions to the air, and there will be increased levels of NOx and particulates. Heathrow already has problems with its poor air quality, due not only to the aircraft on the ground, and in the 1000 feet of their climb or descent, but also the road vehicle traffic associated with the airport.
The air quality standards for power stations burning biomass are still being developed, and there are inconsistencies in the way controls operate for smaller biomass burners.
If the airport was able, in future, to use electricity from the grid – which steadily decarbonises over the coming decades – its carbon emissions from its use of electricity will decline over time.  But if it is tied in to using a biomass boiler, its carbon emissions will remain constant – and will not benefit from more use of wind, solar or wave/tidal energy in future.
If Heathrow finds it cannot, or chooses not to, source its wood fuel locally in future years, and instead finds it cheaper or easier to buy wood pellets from abroad, the carbon emissions may then be very high indeed. There is a considerable problem of power stations such as Drax importing wood pellets from felled, old, valuable forests in south east USA, doing huge environmental and biodiversity damage, yet still being able to claim to be “green.”
Article copied below, from the Ecologist, about the inadequate “sustainability” standards for biomass at present, the many loopholes and the unsatisfactory nature of any controls on this booming industry.


Biofuel and biomass ‘sustainability standards’ are pure greenwash

By Almuth Ernsting (Co-Director of Biofuelwatch)

10th March 2014 – The Ecologist

Who and what are biofuel sustainability standards designed to benefit? They are meant to safeguard forests and communities, writes Almuth Ernsting – but their real purpose is to protect the biofuel industry …

“Since there are no checks, no enforcement and no regulator, standards are quite simply an invitation to fraud.”
“>On its way to Drax? A loader picking up trees from a clearcut for Enviva near the Ahoskie mill, North Carolina. Photo: Dogwood Alliance.
On its way to Drax? A loader picking up trees from a clearcut for Enviva near the Ahoskie mill, North Carolina. Photo: Dogwood Alliance.

Sustainability standards are our Government’s and the EU’s answer to any critique of their subsidies and incentives for industrial biomass and biofuels. Energy companies tend to like them, too.

Rainforests being cut down for palm oil biofuels? No worries – EU biofuel standards don’t allow any support for biofuel crops grown on recently deforested land.

Slow-growing trees being cut down for pellets to be burned in power stations, pumping even more carbon into the atmosphere than burning coal instead would do? No cause for concern: from next year, subsidies will only be paid if biomass reduces carbon emissions by at least 60% compared to coal.

Don’t worry, it’s all ‘sustainable’

Drax getting pellets from a company that makes them out of clearcut ancient swamp forests in the southern US? Well, Drax’s policy says it’s all sustainable.

Better still, from next April, they’ll even need to prove it complies with some voluntary certification scheme or another, regardless of whether it actually has been certified.

Small farmers being evicted for our biofuels? Hmm, that would come under social standards and the EU hasn’t actually introduced any of these.

Don’t worry though – there’s a good chance the biofuels will certified through some voluntary scheme which says people shouldn’t be evicted.

Carbon standard? Any wood will do …

EU biofuel sustainability and greenhouse gas standards were introduced in the UK in 2011 and the Government has proposed biomass standards from April 2015 – although they have so far delayed introducing them twice.

Both biofuel and proposed biomass standards have been heavily criticised as inadequate: Both ignore all indirect impacts; those for biomass ignore the carbon emissions from cutting down and burning trees and the length of time it takes for new trees to possibly re-absorb that carbon; biofuel standards entirely ignore human rights and the right to land, food and water.

As for the proposed biomass sustainability standards, all they say is that wood must meet the criteria of one of several controversial voluntary certification schemes, not even requiring formal certification.

Additionally, carbon standards are proposed, but those ignore most of the carbon emissions associated with biomass burning. The Government’s impact assessment expects wood from absolutely any source to meet those standards.

A remarkable admission

In theory – and with the right political will – much stricter and more comprehensive standards could be introduced, though European NGOs have been campaigning in vain for years to get biofuel standards amended so as to take indirect land use change into account.

But would stricter standards really keep destructive biofuels and biomass out of the country? Or are there deeper problems with the concept of standards?

Hidden away in a recent Government consultation about the impacts of the UK’s biofuel mandates and standards – the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) – is a very striking admission:

Following RED [EU Renewable Energy Directive – which includes biofuel-related targets and standards] implementation the Administrator noted that the volumes of used cooking oil (UCO) derived biofuel being reported as coming from the Netherlands were implausibly high based on the population size.”

An obvious explanation – fraud

In other words, companies had declared using vast quantities of Dutch used cooking oil in biofuels and it would have been quite impossible for Dutch people to eat enough chips to end up with that much waste vegetable oil.

So what they declared to be “used cooking oil from the Netherlands” must have been something else – for all we know, it may have been palm oil from clearcut Indonesian rainforests.

The background to this scam is that since 2011, biofuels from waste have counted double towards biofuel targets, so using – or claiming to use – these has become more profitable.

If companies had planned this fraud a bit better they could have classed their biofuels as used cooking oil from many different countries rather than just from one small one – then no questions would have been asked.

But who’s bothered?

Not that any company has been penalised for lying about biofuel supplies. And this leads back to one of the most fundamental problems with such standards.

Companies love standards because they are a market mechanism, not regulation. This means there is no independent authority that checks where their wood or biofuels are actually coming from or stops them from using anything in particular.

All that’s required of them is to pay another company – a consultancy of their choice – to give them a piece of paper to say their wood, palm oil or whatever else they are using is“sustainable”.  And if one consultancy was to refuse, they can shop around for another.

Clearcut swamp forests in southern US

Pellet producers in North America expect that if the UK introduces biomass standards, energy companies might only need a letter from the forest owner to say that their forest was sustainably managed.

90% of forests in the southern US (where a lot of the wood burnt by Drax and E.On comes from) are privately owned and many of those landowners are profiting greatly from the new demand for pellets.

According to the US conservation NGO Dogwood Alliance, 75% of the wood in swamp forests that are now being clearcut is unsuitable for sawmills but used for pellet production.

So without the demand for pellets, there would be no incentive for forest owners to clear, rather than selectively log, those forests. But which forest owner will be honest enough to admit that their logging is unsustainable if this means foregoing lucrative income from pellet sales to the UK?

The intention is to ‘secure support’

Verification and regulatory enforcement alone would not resolve the problems with standards. After all, a hugely unsustainable demand for wood or biofuels can never be made ‘sustainable’ by simply assessing individual shipments of them.

Such an approach would merely lead to companies selling palm oil or wood from land deforested a long time ago to Europe for bioenergy and at the same time cutting down more forest for plantations aimed at other markets.

But since there are no checks, no enforcement and no regulator, standards are quite simply an invitation to fraud.

Yet while standards fail to prevent forest destruction, human rights abuses and worsening climate change linked to biofuels and biomass, they offer tangible benefits to energy companies.

One of official policy objectives behind the proposed UK biomass standards is to help secure the support of local government, NGOs and the public for proposed new bioenergy developments.

Giving biofuels the green light – no matter what

This is not simply achieved through greenwashing: In February 2011, Secretary of State Eric Pickles approved an application for a large palm oil power station in Avonmouth, overruling Bristol City Council’s decision to reject the plans as unsustainable and high-carbon.

In his decision, Pickles laid out rules which have since been communicated to planning authorities:

  • Biofuel and biomass power station applications cannot be rejected on grounds of wider sustainability or climate change impacts;
  • planners can merely impose a condition that developers must comply with government standards.

The existence or even the mere promise of future standards is thus being used to ensure that power stations get the green light regardless of whether they burn palm oil or wood from clearcut ancient swamp forests.






22.1.2014 (Architects Journal)  on Terminal 2


– 20% of Terminal 2’s energy needs will be from renewable sources
– 40.5% less CO2 emissions than a building built to 2006 building regulations
– 1,000m² square metres of photovoltaic panels on the building’s canopy
– 12MW biomass boiler heater
– Wood used to power the boiler is sustainably sourced, FSC approved timber
– The first phase will potentially save around 13,000 tonnes of CO2 a year compared to the use of natural gas and grid electricity
– Extensive glazing means more natural light. As well as glazed walls, north-facing skylights in the roof will provide glare-free daylight without heat gain (which would mean more air conditioning)


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China’s CAAC has granted Sinopec a license allowing aviation biofuel to be made from rapeseed, palm oil & soybean oil

China’s oil refiner, Sinopec, has been given a license allowing commercial use of its aviation biofuel by airlines.  There was a biofuel test flight in 2013 using fuel made from from hydrotreated palm oil and recycled cooking oil.  Sinopec said it can now produce bio-jet fuel from a wide range of raw material feedstock, including rapeseed oil, palm oil and soybean oil ( which competes with human and animal food).  Sinopec started research on aviation biofuel in 2009, and its application for commercial use was accepted by CAAC in early 2012. Sinopec can produce 3,000 tonnes of the fuel per year, from rape seed, cotton seed and waste cooking oil.  The company is considering joining with private enterprise in planting, collecting and processing these source oils, as well as getting waste cooking oil from McDonald’s. Sinopec claims their biofuels generate 45% less CO2 than conventional fuels.  China is the world’s largest oil importer and 58.1% of its 2013 came from imports.China is now the 2nd largest consumer of aviation fuel, consuming nearly 20 million tonnes per year. Its jet fuel demand is estimated to be expanding by 10% every year, while the global average is less than 5%. The production costs of aviation biofuel remain at least 2 – 3 times those of crude oil.


China approves aviation biofuel for commercial use

Feb. 14, 2014
by Katie Cantle (ATW – Air Transport World)

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has granted Sinopec, China’s top oil refiner, a license allowing commercial use of its aviation biofuel in an effort to cut carbon emissions.

The license, the first of its kind to Sinopec, allows the company’s No.1 aviation biofuel to be used by airlines.

CAAC Flight Criteria Department director Xu Chaoqun said the development is a significant breakthrough for the country’s research, production and application of aviation biofuel.

Sinopec started research on aviation biofuel in 2009 and CAAC accepted its application for commercial use in early 2012.

Sinopec can produce 3,000 tonnes of biofuel oil a year from materials such as plant seeds and recycled cooking oil. The regulator noted Sinopec will work to diversify biofuel sources, lower production costs and push forward commercial application of the fuel.

Biofuel is gaining popularity in China. Last April, China Eastern Airlines operated a test flight in Shanghai powered by No.1 aviation biofuel and the fuel went through several rounds of additional strict tests before it received approval. In addition, Air China became the nation’s first carrier to test a flight partly powered by biofuel, the result of a collaboration between PetroChina and Honeywell UOP’s green jet fuel in October 2011.

Industry analysts said the commercial viability of biofuel for use in jets still faces tough challenges because the treatment process of producing biofuel will push the cost up higher than regular fuel refinery.






China’s aviation biofuel goes into commercial use

February 12, 2014  (China.org)

China started commercial use of aviation biofuel on Wednesday, in a bid to ease fuel pressure and cut carbon emissions.

China’s top oil refiner, Sinopec, was given a license allowing commercial use of its aviation biofuel, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The license, the first of its kind, permits Sinopec’s No. 1 Aviation Biofuel to be used by airlines, some of which have showed willingness to cooperate with the refiner.

Xu Chaoqun, deputy head of CAAC’s Flight Criteria Department, said the development is a significant breakthrough for research, production and use of aviation biofuel.

The development also makes China the fourth country in the world to produce aviation biofuel, after the United States, France and Finland.

Sinopec started research on aviation biofuel in 2009, and its application for commercial use was accepted by CAAC in early 2012.

Last April, a test flight in Shanghai powered by the biofuel was a success, and the fuel went through several rounds of more strict tests before it was given the green light.

Sinopec can produce 3,000 tonnes of such oil a year, from materials like rape seed, cotton seed and wasted cooking oil.

The refiner is also considering joining with private enterprise in planting, collecting and processing materials, after working with McDonald’s to collect cooking oil.

“Aviation biofuel is one of the major trends in global aviation,” said Xu. “With our research on aviation biofuel, we have built a set of technological standards, and will have a bigger say in international carbon emission reduction.” ‘ Research showed that carbon dioxide generated by biofuel is 45 percent or less than that produced by conventional fuel.

The International Air Transport Association forecast that 30 percent of aviation fuel will be biofuel by 2020, and a few western airlines have been testing commercial flights with biofuel since 2008.

China is the world’s largest oil importer and 58.1 percent of its 2013 supply relied on imports.

With an annual consumption of nearly 20 million tonnes, China has become the second largest aviation fuel consumer and demand is estimated to be expanding by 10 percent every year, while the global average is less than 5 percent.

By contrast, the country has abundant biofuel-refining resources: vast areas of oil-rich plants and a huge amount of wasted cooking oil.

However, analysts said there may be a long way to go until large-scale application of aviation biofuel due to costs.

Xu Hui, vice director of Sinopec’s Science and Technology Department, said the production costs of aviation biofuel are two to three times those of crude oil.

He said some three tonnes of wasted cooking oil can generate one tonne of biofuel, and collecting cooking waste suitable for refining is expensive.

Refiners and airlines have to split the cost, and the final price will be determined by the market based on emission-cutting efforts and an application scale, according to Xu with Sinopec.

“The most important thing for now is to diversify biofuel sources and upgrade technology,” said CAAC’s Xu.





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Boeing hoping to convert “green” diesel into jet fuel and BIOJet Abu Dhabi launched to produce UAE jet biofuels

Boeing is now aiming to use biofuels currently put into so-called “green” diesel into aircraft fuel. One Boeing official called the revelation a “major breakthrough” in the industry’s quest to wean itself off fossil fuels and reduce CO2 emissions.  It is, in reality, nothing of the sort. Immense amounts of biofuel are already grown, most of it competing with food crops, to put into road vehicle engines. There will not be sufficient land area on which to feed humanity, as well as its road vehicles, and now aviation getting into the act, in order to get some “green” PR benefits. Boeing says “Unlike some other alternative fuels, green diesel is already being produced on a relatively large scale and, with current government subsidies, is cost-competitive with traditional jet fuel, called Jet-A.”  In practice all sources of oils and fats which could genuinely be classed as sustainable have alternative markets already. If aviation takes these, the other users will be forced to use less “sustainable” fuels through knock-on effects. In addition a new initiative to support an aviation biofuel industry in the United Arab Emirates, BIOjet Abu Dhabi,  has been announced one day after Etihad Airways conducted a demonstration flight with a Boeing 777 powered in part by the first UAE-produced biokerosene from an  unspecified “innovative plant biomass-processing technology.” 


Boeing research shows green diesel’s high-flying possibilities

January 14, 2014
By Gregory Karp (Chicago Tribune)

New research by Boeing Co. shows that so-called green diesel, a fuel blend made from oils and fats that’s already used in trucks and other ground transportation, can be used to power aircraft too, the Chicago-based aviation giant announced Tuesday.

One official called the revelation a “major breakthrough” in the industry’s quest to wean itself off fossil fuels and reduce harmful emissions.

“Green diesel is one small step in total aviation fuel capacity, but it’s one giant leap forward in the commercialization of sustainable aviation biofuels,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Environmental Strategy and Integration.

Unlike some other alternative fuels, green diesel is already being produced on a relatively large scale and, with current government subsidies, is cost-competitive with traditional jet fuel, called Jet-A, Boeing said.

“To date, we have been working on a number of pathways, and we’ve even gotten approval for biofuels, but we haven’t been able to do the supply-demand quotient yet,” Felgar said.

By contrast, green diesel is already a proven fuel alternative that flies, economically, she said. There is already a supply, and the price is right.

“We started to cast our net wide, and we realized we really needed to take a good look at what was being used in ground transportation, because that would help us get the economics right,” she said. “It’s like an innovation ecosystem where you start down one path and then start running down bunny trails. And sometimes you find that pot of gold at the end of a bunny trail.”

Green diesel, made from such materials as recycled animal fat, used cooking oil and inedible corn oil, has half the carbon emissions of fossil fuels. And it would allow airlines, cargo carriers and military, for example, to use the same alternative fuel blend in their trucks and their planes.

Boeing officials are hoping the fuel can get regulatory approval this year for aircraft use. If approved, the fuel could be blended directly with traditional jet fuel and does not require modifications to aircraft engines. It can be blended with traditional jet fuel in a ratio of up to 50 percent, Felgar said.

Commercial aviation and the U.S. military consume 20 billion gallons of jet fuel a year. The cost of jet fuel, nowadays the biggest operating cost for airlines, has tripled since 2000, making it a major issue for carriers.

The aviation industry has proved in tests that it can fly airplanes safely and efficiently on fuels made from cornhusks or algae or many sources other than crude oil. But adoption of so-called biofuels to fly jets ultimately comes down to economics.

In the case of green diesel, also called renewable diesel, its wholesale cost is competitive with petroleum jet fuel at about $3 a gallon, including U.S. government incentives. And green diesel plants around the world, including two in Louisiana, have the capacity to produce 800 million gallons — not near enough to meet the demand of the aviation industry but ahead of other alternative fuels.

Green diesel isn’t the only answer among alternative fuels but it accelerates the evolution, Felgar said. “A few years ago, people said this was a complete longshot,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but it will be an easier road to travel.”

The topic of alternative fuels for aviation has been a hot one in the Midwest, in part because so many local companies and organizations are involved with the topic.

The world’s second-largest airline, United Airlines, and the world’s largest aircraft-maker, Boeing, are both based in Chicago and part of the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative, as is Chicago-based Clean Energy Trust and Honeywell UOP, a leader in aviation biofuel technologies headquartered in Des Plaines. Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont chairs the group’s advisory council. Solazyme Inc. has a Peoria plant that produces oil from algae, and LanzaTech of Roselle has a process that converts waste gas, from steel mills for example, into fuel.

In June, the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative announced a number of steps toward developing aviation biofuels. For example, the Chicago Department of Aviation, which operates O’Hare International and Midway airports, and United Airlines pledged to identify ways to develop alternative fuels, focusing on converting waste streams in the Chicago area into jet fuel. And Honeywell UOP, United and Boeing will provide funding for Purdue University to research ways to convert corn stover — leaves and stalks left in fields after a harvest — into jet fuel.

United Airlines last year signed a three-year deal to buy 15 million gallons of biofuel from a commercial-scale plant near Los Angeles operated by AltAir Fuels. The biofuel is planned to be used on United flights departing from the carrier’s Los Angeles airport hub this year.







Boeing Joins New BIOjet Abu Dhabi Team to Grow Biofuel Supply Chain in United Arab Emirates

 20.1.2014 (Enviro aero)

– Collaboration focuses on research, feedstock production and refining capability

– Announcement follows Etihad 777 biofuel demonstration flight in Abu Dhabi


Etihad Airways, Boeing, Takreer, Total and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology today announced they will collaborate on a new initiative – BIOjet Abu Dhabi: Flight Path to Sustainability – to support a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in the United Arab Emirates.

BIOjet Abu Dhabi will engage a broad range of stakeholders to develop a comprehensive framework for a UAE biofuel supply chain, including research and development and expanded investment in feedstock production and refining capability in the UAE and globally.

BIOjet Abu Dhabi was announced one day after Etihad Airways conducted a demonstration flight with a Boeing 777 powered in part by the first UAE-produced biokerosene from an innovative plant biomass-processing technology. The biofuel was partially converted from biomass by Total and its partner Amyris. Takreer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC), did the final aviation biofuel distillation, adding the UAE to a handful of countries that have produced and flown on their own biokerosene.

The Masdar Institute’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium, funded by Etihad Airways and Boeing, is currently researching and developing salt-tolerant plants that would be raw material for the same refining processes to produce renewable fuel.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said, “In collaboration with our key partners, our goal is to support and help drive the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel in Abu Dhabi, the region and also globally. We have made some important first steps in this process and our continued focus will be to develop further initiatives such as this which will facilitate the availability of sustainable aviation biofuels for Etihad Airways in the coming years.”

The Etihad Airways demonstration flight and announcement of BIOjet Abu Dhabi were held in the run-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the World Future Energy Summit, hallmarks of UAE leaders’ commitment to sustainable energy development. BIOjet Abu Dhabi: Flight Path to Sustainability is aligned with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, which seeks to develop sustainable energy sources to diversify the UAE economy and increase workforce opportunities for Emiratis.

Jeffrey Johnson, President of Boeing Middle East, said: “With further commitment and investment, the UAE, a global leader in commercial aviation, is well-positioned to lead efforts to make our industry more sustainable. Boeing, which works with partners around the world to advance sustainable biofuel development, sees great opportunity for BIOjet Abu Dhabi to have a positive impact in the UAE and globally.”

Jasem Ali Al Sayegh, Chief Executive Officer of Takreer, said: “Takreer is proud to have been involved in refining this product at its Abu Dhabi research centre. We support the concept of using biofuel as a sustainable aviation fuel for a cleaner future in line with ADNOC’s sustainability policy. We see this strategy as complementary to our future plans in meeting the rapid growth in demand for jet fuel in the country and the region in view of the expansion of the operations of airlines here.”

Bernard Clément, Senior Vice President of Total New Energies, added: “As a long-lasting partner of Abu Dhabi and responsible oil and gas producer, Total is proud to participate in the BIOjet Abu Dhabi initiative, and to assist the Emirate in the diversification of its energy mix. This demonstration flight – the first of its kind in the Middle East – illustrates the capacity of Total to integrate, as of today, aeronautical biofuels in a concrete and reliable way. Improving energy efficiency and leveraging the potential of renewables have become fully embedded in Total’s business model with concrete achievements in biofuels as well as in the solar sector.”

Dr Fred Moavenzadeh, President of Masdar Institute, said: “The collaboration for BIOjet Abu Dhabi reflects our partners’ commitment to sustainable biofuel, a concept that is currently being implemented from our side through the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium. We remain focused on identifying commercially viable means for the production of sustainable aviation fuel and welcome the new initiative that will pave the way for faster adoption of such fuel by the industry. With our expertise, we will continue our contribution towards offering clean energy solutions for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Etihad Airways is an airline industry leader in supporting the development of lower-carbon renewable fuels. A member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), the airline operated the Gulf region’s first biofuel flight in January 2011 with a Boeing 777 delivery from Seattle to Abu Dhabi powered by a blend of petroleum-based and certified plant oil-based jet fuel.





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Branson keen to get jet biofuels from waste CO2 – though it could be put to other, non aviation, uses

LanzaTech has a joint venture facility in China, which is aiming to produce future supplies of biofuel for its partner airline, Virgin Atlantic. LanzaTech has a patented fermentation technology that transforms CO or CO2 gases generated by the steel industry into bioethanol, using GM “proprietary”micro-organisms – algae. The bioethanol can then be converted into jet fuels, and other platform chemicals. The waste CO2 could alternatively be used to produce plastics, or fuels for road vehicles, or animal feed. Aviation fuel is only one of the options. Waste CO2 from factories, power stations etc could also be ducted to greenhouses and used to boost production of vegetables and other foods, as well as using the waste heat. Richard Branson and others have been keen to promote this waste CO2 as a “low carbon” fuel for the aviation industry in future. However, it would appear that this waste CO2 could perfectly well be put to other uses, and indeed, diverting it to aviation prevents it being used to produce animal food, which in turn would produce human food. The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) has certified LanzaTech’s joint biofuel venture facility in China, and Richard Branson has said the LanzaTech process is “a major breakthrough in the war on carbon.”


Virgin Atlantic hails RSB certification of LanzaTech’s Chinese venture to convert waste gases into sustainable jet fuels

Virgin Atlantic hails RSB certification of LanzaTech's Chinese venture to convert waste gases into sustainable jet fuels | Virgin Atlantic,LanzaTech,RSB

LanzaTech’s Dr Jennifer Holmgren and Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson


Mon 25 Nov 2013  (GreenAir online)

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), the preferred sustainability standard of major airlines for jet biofuels, has certified LanzaTech’s joint venture facility in China, which is aiming to produce future supplies of sustainable fuels for its partner airline, Virgin Atlantic.

LanzaTech’s patented fermentation technology transforms CO or CO2 gases generated by the steel industry into bioethanol, [using GM micro-organisms] which can then be converted into low-carbon jet fuels, and other platform chemicals. The facility is the first RSB-certified biofuel plant in China and the first anywhere in the world to receive certification for industrial carbon capture and utilisation.

Virgin’s President, Sir Richard Branson, has described the LanzaTech process as a major breakthrough in the war on carbon.

The RSB certification has been awarded to Beijing Shougang LanzaTech New Energy Science & Technology Company, LanzaTech’s joint venture formed in 2011 with Shougang Jingtang Iron and Steel United Company and the Tang Ming Group.

Using the RSB methodology and assumptions based on commercial production, it is estimated that ethanol from the process may reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 60% compared to petroleum fuels.

“The joint venture uses a process that creates a sustainable biofuel and does so by efficiently re-using greenhouse gases that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere,” said Peter Ryus, CEO of RSB Services. [ie. the CO2 is being used to produce chemicals using photosynthesis by “proprietary microorganisms”] “This solution, which does not impact the food chain or land use, meets the RSB principles and practices, and serves as an example of how continued innovation in the industry will lead to sustainable biofuels in the future.”

Dr Jennifer Holmgren, LanzaTech’s CEO, said the certification was “an incredibly important step” and she expected commercial production to go online in 2014. “In addition, we trust this certification will help accelerate the acceptance of biofuels made through carbon capture technologies and serve to showcase the possibilities opened up by thinking of carbon emissions as an opportunity, not just a problem.”

LanzaTech estimates that its technology can apply to 65% of the world’s steel mills, re-using up to 150 million tonnes of CO2 and offering the potential to provide 19% of the world’s current jet fuel demand. In addition, the joint venture partners anticipate local air quality can also be improved by materially reducing NOx and particulate emissions.

Virgin Atlantic, which announced a partnership with LanzaTech in October 2011, is planning to start using the sustainable jet fuels on flights from China.

Craig Kreeger, the airline’s CEO, said the partnership was a key part of its sustainability programme. “Beyond our significant fleet upgrades and our comprehensive fuel efficiency programme, this breakthrough opportunity to pioneer away from fossil fuels offers us the best possible chance of substantially reducing the carbon emissions associated with our flying programme. Key to that has always been ensuring that any new fuel meets the highest possible sustainability standards, and we view RSB as the gold standard scheme to help us to achieve this.”

Sir Richard Branson added: “RSB’s certification is a crucial step to ensure this revolutionary new fuel will meet the highest possible environmental standards and will result in a radical reduction in our carbon footprint.”




Waste CO2 could be source of power

August 15, 2013 (Climate News Network)

By Tim Radford

Emissions from power stations could provide a future fuel source. Image: Jorge Royan via Wikimedia Commons

Scientists suggest emissions from power stations could be used to generate more electricity
Image: PDTillman via Wikimedia commons


Dutch scientists have thought up a new use for all the carbon dioxide that pours from the chimneys of fossil fuel-burning power stations: harvest it for even more electricity.

LONDON, 15 August –They could, they argue, pump the carbon dioxide through water or other liquids and produce a flow of electrons and therefore more electricity. Power-generating stations release 12 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year as they burn coal, oil or natural gas; home and commercial heating plants release another 11 billion tonnes.

This would be enough, they argue, to create 1,750 terawatt hours of extra electricity annually: about 400 times the output of the Hoover dam in the US, and all without adding an extra gasp of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So the exhaust from one cycle of electricity production could be used immediately to deliver another flow of power to the grid.

They make the claim in a journal called Environmental Science and Technology Letters, which is published by the American Chemical Society, and the claim rests on a 200-year-old technique pioneered by Sir Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday: electrolysis.

Harvesting energy from waste

Behind the reasoning is a simple proposition, that every chemical event involves some exchange of energy. In a solution, this movement of energy involves electrons, and ions that migrate to cation or anion electrodes. In a mix of two different solutions, the final mixture has an energy content lower than the sum of the two original solutions: since energy cannot be created or destroyed, therefore there must be some energy available for exploitation.

Bert Hamelers of Wetsus, a centre for water excellence in the Netherlands, and colleagues from Wageningen University report that they used porous electrodes and flushed carbon dioxide into water to get their flow of current: the gas reacted with the water to make carbonic acid, which in the electrolyte became positive hydrogen ions and negative ions of the bicarbonate HCO3. As the pH of the solution gets higher, the bicarbonate becomes a simple carbonate and the higher the CO2 pressure, the greater the increase of ions in the solution.

In their experiment, they found that as they flushed their aqueous electrolyte with air, and alternately with CO2, between their porous electrodes, a supply of electricity began to build up. Since the air that comes from the chimneys of fossil fuel-burning power stations contains anything up to 20% of CO2, even the emissions represent a potential for more power.

They found they could get even more power if instead of a water solution they used an electrolyte of monoethanolamine. In experiments, this delivered an energy density of 4.5 mW a square metre.

The irony is that this electrical energy is already potentially available at the top of the power station chimney, because on release one “solution” of greenhouse gas in air immediately mixes with a different-strength solution in the air all the time.

Nobody of course has a way of harvesting this power directly, but an old-fashioned experiment with electrodes in a laboratory shows that huge quantities of potential power are being lost every day, in unexpected ways.

Graphene batteries

It would require huge investment – and a great deal of engineering ingenuity – to turn greenhouse emissions into yet more electricity, but such research is a reminder that scientists everywhere are looking for clever new ways to power the planet.

Dan Li, a materials engineer at Monash University in Australia, reports in the journal Science that he and his team have developed a graphene-based supercapacitator that is compact, and can be recharged quickly, but can last as long as a conventional lead-acid battery.

That means it could be used to store renewable energy, power portable electronics or drive electric vehicles. Graphene is a new wonder material, a variant of graphite or carbon organised into layers just one atom thick. “It is almost at the stage of moving from the lab to commercial development”, says Li.




Dutch aubergine grower pipes carbon dioxide into greenhouses

Having a chemical plant sited next door to your plantation isn’t what the average farmer might want for his crop.

By Alix Rijckaert, in Terneuzen for AFP

14 Dec 2009

Jan van Duijn, however, walks proudly through his greenhouse, a vast glass and metal structure spread out over five hectares (12.3 acres) where millions of aubergines are doing very nicely thank you.

He’s happy because thanks to a deal with a supplier, he’s getting hot water piped in from the factory, which produces ammonia, to maintain the temperature at a constant 68 degrees F (20C).

The chemical site, five kilometres (three miles away), also supplies carbon dioxide which helps his aubergines grow more abundantly.

“We’re pioneers in a way,” van Duijn said, while admitting that what drove him to try this business model was cost.

The water from the Yara factory, where it is used as a coolant, flows along underground pipes and into his greenhouse at a temperature of 90 degrees C.

There it is circulated in pipes between the rows of aubergines, sharing its heat among the beds of rockwool they grow in, before being pumped back to the factory as coolant again.

Similarly, CO2 released during the manufacture of ammonia is injected into the greenhouse to stimulate growth.

“It’s the basic principle of photosynthesis,” van Duijn said. Combined with water and light, the plants convert the carbon dioxide into organic compounds, releasing oxygen as a side product.

The level of CO2 inside is three times higher than outside, giving a crop yield that according to van Duijn is two to three times greater.

He reckons the project will produce 2.5 million kilogrammes (5.5 million pounds) of aubergines a year, adding to the millions he already cultivates under glass on his land in the southern Netherlands.

Their temperature is monitored and adjustable by computer, said van Duijn, who employs 10 people in summer and 30 in winter at Terneuzen.

Using CO2 in greenhouses is a common practice in the Netherlands but it is rarely so closely tied to industry.

The Netherlands, Europe’s top exporter of horticultural products cultivated under glass – think tulips – has 10,000 hectares under cover producing flowers, fruits, vegetables and other plants.

According to the horticultural association LTO Glaskracht they produced 5.2 megatonnes of CO2 last year – around 63 per cent of the agricultural sector’s total emissions.

Meanwhile, keeping greenhouses at the right ambient temperatures accounted for eight to 10 per cent of the country’s natural gas consumption.

“It’s the first time residual heat is being reutilised on a large scale for a private, commercial venture,” said Jacob Limbeek, the commercial director of WarmCO2, the company supplying the water and carbon gas.

He said that the system allows for a 90 per cent reduction in fossil fuel energy use compared with traditional greenhouses, which are heated by oil or natural gas.

Van Duijn, whose energy bill for the new greenhouse accounts for 20 per cent of fixed costs against 25 per cent for the standard version, struck a deal with WarmCO2 that set prices for the next 15 years.

“That gives us a certain security,” he said. “Our competitors have no idea what their energy bills will be like from one year to the next, they depend on oil prices, gas prices and exchange rates.”

WarmCO2, which also supplies greenhouses producing tomatoes and peppers, is aiming eventually to pipe CO2 to 168 hectares under glass at Terneuzen.

The sector, which is also experimenting with solar panels and geothermal energy, has committed itself to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 from its 1990 level, according to LTO Glaskracht.






Greenhouse to utilize CO2, waste heat from adjacent ethanol plant

January 4, 2013

Across the road from Greenfield Ethanol-Chatham, construction on Truly Green greenhouses is ongoing. The innovative project will utilize the waste heat and CO2 from the 195 MMly ethanol plant in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, to grow a whopping 22 million kilograms of fresh juicy tomatoes yearly, when completed.

Angelo Ligori, ethanol plant manager described it as a rare opportunity to harness the CO2 released in the ethanol process to grow food. The ethanol plant will update its older technology, which currently doesn’t include waste heat recovery or a thermal oxidizer. The new technology will condense stack heat through a series of exchanger systems, allowing the ethanol plant to supply hot water to the greenhouse. The water will then be returned to the ethanol plant through an expanded cooling water loop. “Once this project gets done, our energy footprint will be significantly reduced, so it’s a win-win,” he told Ethanol Producer Magazine.

……….. and it continues …..



and another agricultural example of using waste CO2 at





And waste CO2 used to grow better tomatoes:

Cornerways Nursery benefits from its location close to the Wissington sugar factory. More than two hundred and forty miles of piping carries hot water from the factory’s Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant around the glasshouse, to maintain the balmy temperatures which suit tomato plants. This hot water would otherwise be destined for cooling towers, so the scheme ensures that the heat is used productively.

Another benefit is the productive use of waste carbon dioxide from the sugar factory, which tomatoes use during photosynthesis. At Cornerways, carbon dioxide (a by-product from the CHP boiler) is pumped into the enormous glasshouse to be absorbed by the plants, rather than vented into the atmosphere as waste emissions.





Bio CCS Algal Synthesis test facilities are being trialed at Australia’s three largest coal-fired power stations (Tarong, Queensland; Eraring, NSW; Loy Yang, Victoria) using piped pre-emission smokestack CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) as feedstock to grow oil-rich algal biomass in enclosed membranes for the production of plastics, transport fuel and nutritious animal feed.








Branson hoping for 50% “sustainable” aviation fuels by 2020 (8 years ahead)

5.12.2011     .Guardian article about Richard Branson and his hopes for aviation being able to use biofuels for perhaps 50% of their fuel by 2020.  This is based on the hope that biofuels, from algae in particular, will be very low carbon. There is a lot of unfounded optimism about what biofuels’ or other (not defined) “sustainable” fuels’) carbon emissions will be, now  cheap they will be, and how fast they can be scaled up to industrial quantities. Branson’s aim is not to cut overall emissions, but get cheap fuel for airlines, so they can continue to grow – and thus postpone the day when the industry actually starts to be responsible for its environmental impact.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=375which says: The five leading alternative jet fuel companies identified by Carbon War Room are Lanzatech, SG biofuels, AltAir, Solazyme and Sapphire.





Aviation industry going to biofuels made from alcohols, some from food crops


Jet fuel can be made by combining two alcohol molecules. The aviation biofuel
industry can see there will be a time delay in getting fuel from jatropha, camelia
etc but it could produce fuel from alcohol faster. Some from corn or sugar cane,
as well as non-food crops and woody biomass. Aviation accounts for 12% of the
fuel used by the entire transport sector. Global aviation fuel demand may reach
7.6 million barrels/day in 2012, up from 6.8 m barrels in 2007.



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Boeing & South African Airways partnership for future aviation biofuels

Boeing has signed an agreement with South African Airways (SAA) to launch development of a “sustainable” aviation biofuel chain in Southern Africa – the first in Africa.  They are looking to research new developments in technology that they believe will enable the conversion of biomass into jet fuel, which they hope will reduce aviation CO2 emissions. The new partnership will research “feedstocks and other organic sources” (they do not say what – but unlikely to be jatropha as banned in SA) in South Africa to begin developing a biofuel supply chain for airlines within the region, but there is no projected date when the first fuel might be produced. Boeing and SAA say new developments in technology will enable the conversion of biomass into jet fuel in a more sustainable manner without competing with other sectors for food and water resources. “The World Wildlife Fund-South Africa will monitor and ensure compliance to sustainability principles that would ensure that fuel is sustainable and would lead to genuine carbon reductions.”


Boeing & SAA Partner for Aviation Biofuels

Posted on 
 by   (Domestic Fuel)

Boeing and South African Airways (SAA) have announced a partnership to develop and implement a sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain in Southern Africa, a first for the continent. The companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding for sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain development at The Corporate Council on Africa’s 9th Biennial U.S.-Africa Business, attended by executives from leading U.S. and African firms and government representatives from several countries.

South African Airways Plane

This collaboration between Boeing and SAA is part of the companies’ broader efforts to support environmental sustainability for the airline’s operations and the commercial aviation industry overall, in addition to advancing South Africa’s social and economic development.

“South African Airways is taking the lead in Africa on sustainable aviation fuels and, by setting a best practice example, can positively shape aviation biofuel efforts in the region,” said Ian Cruickshank, SAA Head of Group Environmental Affairs. “By working with Boeing’s sustainable aviation biofuel team, which has a history of successful partnerships to move lower-carbon biofuels closer to commercialization, we will apply the best global technology to meet the unique conditions of Southern Africa, diversify our energy sources and create new opportunities for the people of South Africa.”

Boeing has collaborated extensively with airlines, research institutions, governments and other stakeholders to develop road maps for biofuel supply chains in several countries and regions, including the United States, China, Australia and Brazil. The aerospace company’s plan to work with SAA is the first such project in Africa.

“Sustainable aviation biofuel will play a central role in reducing commercial aviation’s carbon emissions over the long term, and we see tremendous potential for these fuels in Africa,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Environmental Strategy and Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Boeing and South African Airways are committed to investigating feedstocks and pathways that comply with strict sustainability guidelines and can have a positive impact on South Africa’s development.”

Boeing and SAA believe that new developments in technology will enable the conversion of biomass into jet fuel in a more sustainable manner without competing with other sectors for food and water resources. The World Wildlife Fund-South Africa will monitor and ensure compliance to sustainability principles that would ensure that fuel is sustainable and would lead to genuine carbon reductions.

Aviation biofuel refined to required standards has been approved for a blend of up to 50 percent with traditional jet fuel. Globally, more than 1,500 passenger flights using biofuel have been flown since the fuel was approved.



.Boeing and SAA say new developments in technology will enable the conversion of biomass into jet fuel in a more sustainable manner without competing with other sectors for food and water resources. The World Wildlife Fund-South Africa will monitor and ensure compliance to sustainability principles that would ensure that fuel is sustainable and would lead to genuine carbon reductions.


It appears the growing of jatropha is currently banned in South Africa, due to its toxicity and invasiveness. http://www.bioenergywiki.net/Jatropha

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EADS and Rolls Royce considering the concept of a hybrid electric-biofuel plane ??

EADS (European aerospace, defence etc) and Rolls Royce say  they are developing  the concept of the first “hybrid” airliner propelled by a combination of electricity, and algae- derived biofuel. They claim it would produce 75% less CO2 than a conventional airliner, and work in a similar way to hybrid cars, such as the Prius. While all electric planes would not be able, at best, to carry a couple of passengers, there might be the potential for hybrid planes to carry more. EADS’ “E-Thrust” project would give the plane propulsion by 6 electric fans along the back of its wings. Its engine (using liquid fuel, perhaps biofuel)  would generate electrical power, which would be stored in a large lithium battery [the sort that caused the Dreamliner such problems with overheating] in the aircraft’s fuselage. The aim is for the plane to use liquid fuel plus battery power to take off and climb, and then for the battery to get some charge back while cruising.  The plane would then glide in to land, generating more electrical energy to top up the battery for the extra power it will need for the landing. Many decades ahead, if it works at all?


eConcept – EADS’s Hybrid-Electric Airliner

Posted by Graham Warwick

Jun 24, 2013

Anxious to assure us it is not entirely anchored in the now by Airbus, EADS at Paris unveiled a distributed hybrid-electric propulsion concept it is working on with engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce. The idea is similar to the turboelectric distributed propulsion (TeDP) work under way at NASA. EADS Innovation Works has incorporated the initial E-Thrust distributed propulsion configuration into its eConcept vision for a 2050-timeframe airliner.

Concepts: EADS Innovation Works 


The EADS IW concept uses a single large turbine engine to generate electricity to power six ducted fans that provide thrust. This allows propulsive and thermal efficiency to be optimized separately. The turbine engine can be optimized for thermal efficiency (turning fuel into shaft power) while the ducted fans increase effective bypass ratio and therefore propulsion efficient (turning shaft power into thrust).

The single turbine engine is embedded in the tail so that it ingests the fuselage boundary layer and re-energizes the wake to reduce drag. It has a long exhaust duct to minimize noise and allow for particle filtration. The electric fans have a combined bypass ratio exceeding 20:1 (more than twice today’s engines) and are integrated into the wing to reduce drag and noise.

As with NASA’s TeDP, superconductivity is key to the concept. The turbine engine drives a hub-mounted superconducting motor. Power is extracted, and cryogenic coolant is circulated through the motor, via structural stator vanes behind the fan that recover thrust from the swirling air.

EADS’s concept includes advanced lithium-air batteries for energy storage. For take-off and climb, the turbine and batteries power the ducted fans. In the cruise, the turbine powers the fans and recharges the batteries. During the gliding descent, the windmilling fans generate regenerative power to top up the batteries. On landing, the turbine powers the fans. At all times, the batteries have sufficient energy to power the aircraft if the turbine fails.

EADS IW, with Rolls-Royce and Cranfield University, is working on the Distributed Electrical Aerospace Propulsion (DEAP) project funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board. Rolls and EADS IW also are working with Magnifye and Cambridge University on a programmable alternating-current superconducting machine – described as a powerful, lighter and lower-loss design incorporating high-temperature superconducting coils embedded in a lightweight epoxy structure.





EADS Examines Electric And Hybrid Propulsion To Further Reduce Aircraft Emissions

Paris/Le Bourget,,  16 June 2013

Will electric propulsion become an alternative for fossil fuel also in the aviation industry? EADS is evaluating different approaches and is demonstrating a number of initiatives in the field of electric and hybrid propulsion at the Paris Air Show 2013. These projects are part of the Group’s commitment to develop technologies that further reduce aircraft carbon dioxide emissions.

The Group has not only developed and built an electric general aviation training aircraft in cooperation with Aero Composites Saintonge (ACS), called E-Fan but EADS has also engineered together with Diamond Aircraft and Siemens an updated hybrid electric motor glider, the Diamond Aircraft DA36 E-Star 2. EADS has also cooperated with Rolls-Royce on a smarter future distributed propulsion system concept. These three projects are known as ‘E-aircraft’ projects.

The development of innovative propulsion system concepts for future air vehicle applications is part of EADS’ research to support the aviation industry’s environmental protection goals as spelled out in the ‘Flightpath 2050’ report by the European Commission. This roadmap sets the target of reducing aircraft CO2 emissions by 75%, along with reductions of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) by 90% and noise levels by 65%, compared to standards in the year 2000. EADS Innovation Works (IW), the corporate research and technology network of EADS, is developing and continuing to explore innovations in the field of environmentally friendly propulsion, in order to provide technology bricks for the operating divisions.

E-Fan: electric aircraft in progress

Two years after the first electric aerobatic plane and the smallest manned aircraft in the world with four electric engines, the all-electric Cri-Cri, the teams at EADS IW and Royan-based ACS (Charente Maritime, France) have gone a step further with E-Fan, a fully electric general aviation training aircraft.

“The introduction of the E-Fan electric aircraft represents another strategic step forward in EADS’ aviation research. We are committed to exploring leading-edge technologies that will yield future benefits for our civil and defense products,” said Jean Botti, Chief Technical Officer (CTO), at EADS.

The two-seat E-Fan has undergone a very intensive development phase of only eight months. It features two electrical engines driving shrouded propellers. Total static engine thrust is about 1,5 kN, with the energy being provided by two battery packs located in the wings. The length of the aircraft is 6.7 meters with a wingspan of 9.5 meters. It is the first electric aircraft featuring ducted fans to reduce noise and increase safety. Another innovation is the main landing gear. It allows electrical taxiing on the ground without the main engines and in addition provides acceleration during take-off up to a speed of 60 km/h. To guarantee a simple handling of the electrically powered engines and systems, the E-Fan is equipped with an E-FADEC energy management system.

“We believe that the E-Fan demonstrator is an ideal platform that could be eventually matured, certified to and marketed as an aircraft for pilot training,” explained Botti. EADS IW is developing the electrical and propulsion system together with partners like ACS, which is building the all-composite structure, the mechanical systems and conducted the aerodynamic studies. The French innovation institutes CRITT Matériaux Poitou-Charentes (CRITT MPC) and ISAE-ENSMA, as well as the company C3 Technologies have been responsible for the construction and production of the wings. The engagement of these companies is also an investment in French infrastructure, jobs and know-how. Furthermore, electrical engineering experts from Astrium and Eurocopter helped out with their expertise in testing the battery packs while the livery was designed by Airbus. The E-Fan project is co-funded by the Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile (DGAC, the French civil aviation authority), the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER), the French Government (Fonds FRED), the Région Aquitaine and the Département Charente-Maritime of France.

World’s first serial hybrid electric aircraft, Diamond Aircraft DA36 E-Star 2, developed further

In addition to the development of the E-Fan, EADS is also demonstrating hybrid propulsion systems. One of them is in the Diamond Aircraft DA36 E-Star 2 motor glider first introduced at the Paris Air Show 2011. The two-seater has been updated with a lighter and more compact electric motor from Siemens, resulting in an overall weight reduction of 100kg. Electricity is supplied by a small Wankel engine from Austro Engine with a generator that functions solely as a power source. EADS IW prepared the battery packs, which are installed in the wings.

Propulsion gets smarter

Since 2012, EADS IW has been working together with Rolls-Royce within the Distributed Electrical Aerospace Propulsion (DEAP) project, which is co-funded by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board. The project researches key innovative technologies that will improve fuel economy and reduce exhaust gas and noise emissions by having a distributed propulsion system architecture. In this architecture, six electricallypowered fans are distributed in clusters of three along the wing span and housed with a common intake duct. An advanced gas power unit provides the electrical power for the fans and for the re-charging of the energy storage.

“The idea of distributed propulsion offers the possibility to better optimize individual components such as the gas power unit, which produces only electrical power, and the electrically driven fans, which produce thrust. This optimises the overall propulsion system integration,” explained Sébastien Remy, Head of EADS Innovation Works. “The knock-on effect we expect thanks to the improved integration of such a concept is to reduce the overall weight and the overall drag of the aircraft,” he said. During the Paris Air Show, EADS IW exhibits can be viewed at the EADS Pavilion at the end of chalet row A. CTO Jean Botti will conduct a Media Tour to explain the exhibits and technologies on Tuesday, 18 June at 13:30.

About EADS

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.





Jean Botti, chief technical officer of EADS, said such an aircraft could be ready to take to the skies within 18 to 20 years.

The E-Thrust proposal is part of a project that has received £523,000 from the Technology Strategy Board, the government’s innovation agency, and has also involved engineers from Cranfield University in Bedfordshire.





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Total and Amyris working on jet fuel from GM yeasts using sugarcane – demo flight at Paris Air Show

In France, Amyris and Total announced a demonstration flight (from Toulouse to Paris) of an A321 at the Paris Air Show using its renewable jet fuel made from Amyris Biofene from plant sugars. This is a French Initiative for Future Aviation Fuels, which seeks to produce and commercialize alternative, allegedly renewable and sustainable aviation fuels in France. There was an earlier flight using this fuel in June 2012, in Brazil.  Amyris is using genetically-modified yeasts which metabolise sugars from sugarcane or sweet sorghum for the process, which produces a broad range of molecules via Biofene. Cellulosic sugars are what they want to use in future, but for now, Amyris is focused on cane sugar.  (ie. competing with human food). There is evidence that the cost of oil-based jet fuel is rising faster than the cost of sugar. If there is margin of around 24 US cents per gallon between the cost of the sugar feedstock and the fuel it might be profitable to use sugar. They are hoping this will continue in future. In December 2012, Amyris began commercial production of Biofene at its industrial-scale production facility in southeastern Brazil. Amyris and Total expect the fuel might be commercially available by 2014. 





Sugar High: Total, Amyris, Airbus complete sugar-based renewable jet fuel flight at Paris Air Show

by   (Biofuels Digest)
June 21, 2013


Landmark flight for sugar-based renewable jet fuel — what’s the future?

As the technology and downstream market matures, the big question is feedstock costs. And they’re trending nicely.

In France, Amyris and Total announced a successful demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show its renewable jet fuel made from Amyris Biofene and, ultimately, from plant sugars.

The Airbus A321 aircraft powered by two Snecma CFM56 jet engines flew from Toulouse to Paris with a blend of renewable jet fuel produced by Amyris and Total. This demonstration flight was in support of the French Initiative for Future Aviation Fuels, which seeks to produce and commercialize alternative, renewable and sustainable aviation fuels in France in the coming years.

This was the second public demonstration flight with the Amyris-Total renewable jet fuel. In June 2012, an Embraer E195 jet flew with the renewable jet fuel produced from sugarcane in Brazil.

Yep, you’re flying on sugar — by way of farnesene

Amyris has developed genetic engineering technologies that enable modification of the way microbes process (i.e., metabolize) sugar. By controlling these metabolic pathways, Amyris is able to design microbes, primarily yeast, to be tiny living factories that convert plant-sourced sugars from crops such as sugarcane or sweet sorghum into target molecules. Using its industrial synthetic biology platform, Amyris develops yeast strains designed to produce a broad range of molecules.

Farnese being formed from sugar via genetically-modified yeast

Farnese being formed from sugar via genetically-modified yeast

The first molecule that Amyris is focusing on is Biofene, Amyris-brand farnesene, a hydrocarbon building block that can replace petrochemicals in a wide variety of products in the cosmetics, flavors and fragrances, consumer product, polymers, lubricants and fuel markets.

You can download more about farnnesane and farnesene here.

Can sugar work as a renewable jet fuel stock – on the economics?

Now that the technology is proven, and Amyris and Total are committed to a joint venture in renewable diesel and jet fuel that will include commercial-scale facilities, the remaining big question is the sourcing of sustainable, available, reliable, affordable tonnages of sugar.

Cellulosic sugars are on the way — but for now, Amyris is focused on cane sugar. There. there’s a decent body of evidence, over the past ten years, that the cost of oil-based jet fuel is rising faster than the cost of sugar.

Here’s the tale of the tape.

Sugar vs jet fuel prices since 2003

Sugar vs jet fuel prices since 2003

Ten years ago in spring 2003, jet fuel was selling at 10.60 cents per pound and sugar was selling at 7.01 cents per pound. Not much margin there for the large capex and opex associated with turning sugar into jet fuel. Just 3.59 cents per pound, or 24 cents per gallon in margin between the feedstock and the fuel. Even amortized over 15 years, the project would have been unlikely to cover the capital costs — much less the opex of running a large operation.

But look at today. Jet fuel is selling at 40.75 cents per pound, and sugar at 17.08 cents. The spread has grown more than six times, to 23.67 cents per pound, or $1.58 per gallon. Allowing for, say, a capital cost of $8-$10 per gallon of installed capacity, amortized over 15 years there is meaningful spread still left over to cover operating costs and margin.
But consider the trend — a spread that’s grown 6X over 10 years — and you might consider that sugar could well provide an excellent long-term hedge against rising oil-based jet fuel prices.

Amyris-Total renewable jet fuel, and biofene

The Amyris-Total renewable fuel was produced using engineered microorganisms that convert plant sugars into Biofene, Amyris’s brand of renewable farnesene, a long-chain, branched hydrocarbon.

In December 2012, Amyris began commercial production of Biofene at its industrial-scale production facility in southeastern Brazil. Amyris and Total expect the fuel to be commercially available as early as 2014, following approval by the ASTM International, the world’s leading fuel standard setting body.

The story goes back to 2009, from the point of view of test flights, when Embraer and General Electric announced that they would conduct a test flight using renewable jet fuel produced from sugar cane by Amyris Biotechnologies. The ERJ-190/-195 test flight was operated by Azul Linhas Aereas, using sugarcane as a feedstock.

“That initiative has the enthusiastic support of Azul’s founder and CEO David Neeleman and the Brazilian Government,” said Tom Casey of ACA Associates at the time, “especially as the demonstration involves an Embraer commercial airplane, flying with a Brazilian airline and using a Brazil-sourced bio jet fuel from sugarcane feedstock.”
Next steps for Total and Amyris

As a result of the continued success of Amyris’s existing technology collaboration with Total, the two parties intend to form a joint venture company by mid-2013 to market renewable diesel, jet fuel, and other specialty products derived from Biofene, Amyris’s renewable brand of farnesene.

Last August, Total reaffirmed its commitment to Amyris’s technology and dedicated its $82 million funding budget over the next three years exclusively for the deployment of Biofene, Amyris’s renewable farnesene, for production of renewable diesel and jet fuel. Total’s commitment includes a $30 million payment to Amyris in 2012.

Total and Renewable Fuels

The Total Group holds a 66% stake in SunPower, a world leader in solar energy, and an 18.5% stake in Amyris, an integrated renewable products company. Additionally, Total is actively engaged in a number of renewable R&D projects, such as solar and biomass.

In today’s Digest, we look in-depth at reaction from the partners, plus a networking and knowledge-sharing opportunity with Amyris CEO John Melo via the page links below.
Reaction from the partners

“This is a significant milestone in our strategic partnership with Total for biofuels. From developing the world’s leading synthetic biology platform to producing and distributing renewable products globally, the Amyris-Total collaboration demonstrates the power of partnerships to drive innovation and deliver sustainable products,” said John Melo, President & CEO of Amyris. “Today’s flight is another step closer in achieving ASTM certification, which paves the way for the commercialization of our renewable jet fuel,” Melo concluded.

“The air transport sector has an ambitious target: drastically reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 while commercial flights and demand for jet fuel will steadily grow. To that end, biofuels will play an important role along with improved aircraft energy efficiency. This demonstration flight illustrates the capacity of Amyris and Total to integrate, as of today, aeronautical biofuels in a concrete and reliable way,” said Philippe Boisseau, President, Marketing & Services and New Energies and a member of the Executive Committee of Total. “As one of the world’s biggest suppliers of aviation fuel, Total aims at widely offering this solution to airline customers. We are confident that we will be able to achieve this within the coming years.”

…. and there is more at





Amyris: Can their renewable jet fuel ever be affordable?

 | June 27, 2013  ( Biofuels Digest)

In the Digest mailbag, we’ve been getting a fair amount of feedback to our coverage of Amyris’s advances in renewable jet fuel.

In our article, we pointed out the growing gap between the price of sugar and jet fuel over the past ten years — giving credence to the use of sugar as a feedstock for fuel production.

Some of our more astute readers ask, calculators in hand, how is it going to be ever economically possible to make jet fuel from Amyris biofene?

One reader writes:

“Theoretical yield for farnesene from sugar (glucose) is about 30% by weight (compared to 51% for ethanol, which is a much shorter-chain molecule than farnesene or other fuel-grade oils).  However, actual yields will typically be on the order of <50% of that, so probably more like 15% (0.15 g farnesene/ g sugar) or even less.  

“From there the math makes it fairly easy to calculate the cost of a gallon of “jet fuel” or “diesel” from any cost of sugar (using a density like ethanol of about 3 kg/gal).  In addition, farnesene is not the final molecule — farnesane is — which means Amyris will need to use a source of hydrogen to hydrogenate farnesene, further adding to the cost.

“At an actual yield of 20% (giving them the benefit of the doubt), it would take 5 lbs of sugar to make 1 lb of jet fuel.  So using your number of $0.17/lb for sugar, the cost of farnesene would be 5*0.17 or approximately $1/lb just for raw material (forgetting the need for H2 and of course all other raws and capex) – which is more than 2x the market value of jet fuel, which you put at ~$0.40/lb.”

It’s an interesting question — and frankly beyond the Digest staff’s abilities with a calculator — so we asked Joel Velasco at Amyris for some help.

He writes:

“We don’t disclose current yields. But as we describe in at least one of our patents (See here.) the max theoretical yield for our Farnesene strains is about 30%.

“We have always offered the figure of about 3 kilos of sugar for a liter of farnesane (jet fuel/diesel) for our analysis of target production.

“So, at current sugarcane TRS pricing in Brazil (R$ 0.44/TRS kg according to public market data, here), the feedstock cost of producing a liter of fene at these targets (and R$/$ exchange rate) would be about $0.61 per liter or $2.35 per gallon.”

Now, that’s just feedstock costs using current local prices in Brazil, and not the sale price of fuel, but it does continue to add credence to the concept that — so long as the cost of the underlying sugars continues to trend south of rising priceline of jet fuel — there are reasons to continue to be optimistic regarding renewable jet fuels made via the Amyris process.







Sugar-based biofuel flight on 19th June, to coincide with Rio+20, purporting to be “sustainable”

4.6.2012Here’s a depressing story.  Using jet fuel derived from sugarcane, and therefore not separate from food production, Azul Brazilian Airlines will put on a flight on 19th June. They say how desirable using sugarcane is for jet fuel, as it “can be produced sustainably in large-scale quantities in Brazil and other tropical countries.” And that jet fuel from sugarcane has “emission reduction potential”.   This flight, to coincide with Rio+20 is just greenwash, and the industry capitalising on a marketing opportunity for a form of fuel is actually not sustainable, and that competes with land that could and should be used for food production.




Boeing, Embraer enter Brazil jet-biofuel venture

26.10.2011 (Reuters)Boeing Co and its Brazilian counterpart Embraer have joined forces with Brazilian
Fapesp, to map out how best to expand the use of biofuels for jet engines from
renewable sources such as sugar cane. They are aware of criticisms about biofuel
not helping with global warming. They say they don’t want feedstocks that are
also food crops. A 9-month study will look at the potential feedstocks and their
large-scale commercial challenges and advantages.




Funding secured for Brazilian research study into the sustainability of renewable jet fuel sourced from sugarcane

15.8.2011 (Green Air Online) The IDB will finance for “renewable” jet fuel projects in Latin America and the Caribbean and along with aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Embraer the IDB will fund a sustainability analysis of producing jet fuel from Brazilian sugarcane. 

The study will evaluate environmental and market conditions for and will be independently reviewed and advised by the WWF. It will include indirect land-use effects. Sugar-derived jet biofuels were not included in the recent ASTM certification process










Read more »

Siemens & LanzaTech to develop fuel from CO2 & CO from steel industry gases

The iron and steel industry worldwide produces huge volumes of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide – around 6.7% of global CO2 emissions.   Siemens has announced that it will work to develop biofuels from these waste industrial gases after signing a 10-year cooperation deal with New Zealand technology company LanzaTech. They say they will commercialise and market the system for the steel industry. The process captures the CO and CO2 and uses these through a patented biological fermentation to produce chemicals  including bioethanol and fuels.  The companies hope their technique makes good use of the waste gases, as well as helping steel mills to meet environmental regulations. They claim fuels made from the waste gases will have CO2 emissions 50 – 70% lower than fossil based fuels.  LanzaTech says the process does not compete with food production – (but could the waste CO2 not be used in greenhouses etc in order to promote growing of food crops?). Virgin wants to fly a demonstration flight on this during 2013 and then more in 2014.




From Siemens’ press release:


Off-gases from the production of iron and steel contain significant amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Globally, the iron and steel industry contributes 6.7 percent to the worldwide CO2 emissions. To produce one metric ton of steel, an average of 1.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted. Up to now, these gases have been flared or used to create process heat and electrical energy within the plant.

LanzaTech’s innovative technology, instead, re-uses the off-gases from converter, coking plant or blast furnace processes as nutrients and a source of energy. The patented biological fermentation process allows steel plant operators to make use of the chemical energy contained in off-gases in the form of CO, CO2 and H2 (hydrogen) for the eco-friendly production of bioethanol or other basic chemicals such as acetic acid, acetone, isopropanol, n-butanol or 2,3-butanediol.
The global market for ethanol alone is estimated to amount to an annual volume of over 80 million metric tons, of which 75 million metric tons is used as biofuel. Unlike the bioethanol produced through agriculture, LanzaTech’s fermentation process does not compete with food production. Another major benefit of this technology is that the CO2 emissions (“carbon footprint”) are between 50 to 70 percent lower than petroleum-based fuels and around one-third lower than when steel plant off-gases are converted into electricity.

Comment from an AirportWatch member:
Ideally the  vast amounts of CO2 from these steel plants would be captured and stored underground, for permanent disposal. That, in theory, would be possible,  as they are large point sources.  However, CCS (carbon capture and storage is not going to happen on any significant scale for a very long time.
The second best option would be for the carbon to be used for some purpose which prevents or delays the emission of more CO2.  Such a use would be in fuel for road vehicles, which avoids the use of more fossil fuels. The CO2 then enters the atmosphere  slightly later than it would, being emitted by the steel works. But at least some fossil fuel oil did not need to be extracted, so some carbon was saved.
Another option would be for the CO2 to be used to cultivate crops, in a greenhouse, boosting the plants’ growth. That would again mean the CO2 would return to the atmosphere in due course, (once the food was eaten and the plant remains composted etc) but more slowly than if the CO2 was released by the steel plant. And food, efficiently grown, is needed.
The worst option is for that CO2 to be turned into jet fuel. Because it is likely that the emissions from aviation have around twice as much climate impact as just CO2 alone, when the non-CO2 impact is taken into account. That means burning a unit of fuel in a jet engine at high altitude produces around twice as much impact as burning that fuel at ground level.
Whichever form of jet fuel is burnt, whether from fossil or biological sources, once it is combusted in a jet engine  at over 25,000 feet or so altitude, it has a worse climate effect than that fuel being used on the ground.  Better therefore for the gases from steel plants to be used for terrestrial uses – ideally where the carbon is contained and stored.


Siemens to develop biofuel from steel industry gases

Manufacturing giant signs 10-year partnership with LanzaTech to commercialise gas to fuel technology

By BusinessGreen staff

20 Jun 2013

Siemens will work to develop biofuels from waste industrial gases after signing a 10-year cooperation deal with New Zealand technology company LanzaTech.

The two companies will work to commercialise and market the system for the steel industry, according to a joint statement released yesterday.

LanzaTech has developed a process that captures carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide from steel mills and turns it into fuel and chemicals. Currently, these by-product gases are usually flared or used to generate on-site electricity.

The company says the technology can help reduce the 6.7 per cent of global CO2 emissions iron and steel industry contributes, while helping mills lower operating costs and meet environmental regulations.

Moreover, LanzaTech calculates the CO2 emissions of the technology are between 50 to 70 per cent lower than petroleum-based fuels and about a third lower than when the gases are converted into electricity on-site.

The deal will see Siemens help design mills that can incorporate LanzaTech’s technology or work out how to retrofit it onto existing facilities. In addition, the two companies are “already pursuing several commercial gas fermentation project opportunities around the world”, according to their statement.

Dr Jennifer Holmgren, chief executive of LanzaTech, said the partnership would “improve the value and environmental footprint” of the global steel industry.

“Global demand for affordable and sustainable energy has never been stronger,” she said. “Carbon emissions from steel mills can create an important new source of energy while simultaneously reducing emissions.”

The Auckland-based company has already trialled the technology at two pre-commercial plants in China and is planning to build two commercial-scale facilities in the country during this year, which should come online in 2014.

LanzaTech has already attracted high-profile customers for its biofuels including Virgin Atlantic. The carrier’s most recent sustainability report states the company is aiming to fly a demonstration flight using the fuel later this year and plans to “uplift fuel in commercial quantities by 2014”.







Virgin trials “revolutionary” biofuel made from waste gases

New fuel promises half the lifecycle emissions of standard jet fuel and could be used in international flights by 2014

By Will Nichols (Business Green)

11 Oct 2011

Virgin Atlantic today unveiled a “breakthrough” aviation fuel it claims has half the lifecycle carbon footprint of kerosene, the standard fossil fuel alternative.

Should a demonstration flight in the next 12 months prove successful, the airline said that within three years flights from Shanghai and Delhi to Heathrow could be using the fuel, which has been created by bio-technology firm LanzaTech.

The New Zealand-based company has pioneered a method of capturing waste gases from industrial steel production, which are then fermented and chemically converted for use as a jet fuel using technology developed bySwedish Biofuels.

LanzaTech reckons the process could be applied to around two-thirds of the world’s steel mills, as well as the metals processing and chemical industries.

The company said the reliance on industrial gases addresses the commonly levelled charge that biofuels drive land use change and can result in higher emissions and increased food prices.

The company is piloting the technology in New Zealand and aims to have commissioned a demonstration plant in Shanghai before the end of the year, ahead of commercial deployment in 2014.

“With oil running out, it is important that new fuel solutions are sustainable, and with the steel industry alone able to deliver over 15 billion gallons of jet fuel annually, the potential is very exciting,” said Virgin Atlantic president Richard Branson in a statement. “This new technology is scalable, sustainable and can be commercially produced at a cost comparable to conventional jet fuel.”

Branson has long hailed the potential of greener fuels and only this weekdemanded better tax incentives to encourage the technology.

Under his leadership, Virgin Atlantic piloted the first commercial service using biofuels, flying from London to Amsterdam using a blend of jet fuel and biofuel made from coconut oil and babassu oil in February 2008.

The airline has also set itself a goal of cutting carbon emissions 30 per cent per passenger km by 2020 and said the new fuel from LanzaTech could help take it “well beyond” that pledge.

Qantas and Air New Zealand have also experimented with alternative fuels, as the region increasingly becomes a green jet fuel hub. A study earlier this year predicted Australasia could be home to a green jet fuel industry worth £1.3bn a year and supporting 12,000 jobs by 2030.

However, some environmentalists remain concerned that if used at large scale green jet fuels could still contribute to land use change and as such governments should step up efforts to discourage flying.





Virgin plans for new aviation fuel made from waste gas from steel production

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=462011.10.2011 (Flight Global)Virgin Atlantic is to develop a low carbon aviation fuel, which it hope will
have half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative.  It is
developing the fuel with LanzaTech and claims it is a breakthrough. The fuel will
use waste gases from industrial steel production which will be captured,  and
chemically converted (Fischer Tropsch) using Swedish Biofuels technology for use
as a jet fuel. The gas otherwise would be burnt/vented to produce CO2.http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/virgin-engages-in-low-carbon-fuel-partnership-363239/ 



Read more »

Open letter to MEPs from civil society groups and NGOs calls for a change in EU biofuels policy

A large number of European environmental organisations have written an open letter to MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) asking them to make crucial changes to the EU biofuels policy. The policy is not only failing in its basic objective of cutting CO2 emissions from Europe’s transport, but is also costing governments and taxpayers €10 billion in support every year.  The letter says instead EU biofuel policy exacerbates land grabs, deforestation, hunger and poverty. It questions how it can be justified to support this ineffective policy with so much public money. The letter asks MEPs to halt the expansion of land-based biofuels in transport; to fully account for the lifetime carbon emissions of biofuels, including their indirect land use impacts; and to phase out subsidies and public support for environmentally damaging biofuels. Airlines are interested in using more biofuel, though flights so far using oils that have competing human food use have been minimal.



Open letter to MEPs calling for a change in EU biofuels policy

June 12, 2013

This open letter, signed by a large group of civil society groups and NGOs, calls on Members of the European Parliament to make crucial changes to the EU biofuels policy. The policy is not only failing in its basic objective of cutting CO2 emissions from Europe’s transport, but is also costing governments and taxpayers €10 billion in support every year.

EU biofuels policy is failing

The letter was signed by:

BirdLife International CIDSE
Client Earth
CAN Europe
European Environmental Bureau
Friends of the Earth, Europe
Transport & Environment



Aviation, biofuel, camelina, palm oil

The aviation industry is keen to use biofuels in future, in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions, so the industry can continue to grow, even with carbon restrictions. There have been some claims that 10, 20, 30, 40% of aviation fuel could be biofuel by 2050 or so – though these levels are highly unlikely.

Aviation does not yet use land-based biofuels, though some airlines have carried out test flights using various biofuels. Recently United Airlines announced it would be buying huge volumes of biofuel from what it describes vaguely as “non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes”.  It appears that the oil is likely to camelina. Several US state governments are pushing camelina for biofuels.  Camelina is edible but growing it in larger monocultures is pretty experimental.  It looks a bit like oilseed rape but the yields are much lower, so it requires a lot more  land.  It seems a matter of debate whether it could be said not to compete with food, or therefore have indirect land use impacts.

China Eastern airlines have carried out a flight using palm oil, and are likely to do more.



United hopes to buy 5 million gallons of biofuel per year from AltAir Fuels – from “non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes”?

Date added: June 6, 2013

US United Airlines has announced that it has executed a definitive purchase agreement with USA-based AltAir Fuels to buy allegedly “sustainable”advanced biofuels at commercial scale. In the partnership AltAir Fuels will retrofit part of an existing petroleum refinery near Los Angeles to produce some 30 million gallons per year, partly of jet fuel and partly other diesel fuel. United has agreed to buy 5 million gallons of the jet fuel each year, for 3 years, starting in 2014, with the option to buy more. United has agreed a price for the fuel that is competitive with traditional, petroleum-based jet fuel. United says it will use this biofuel on flights from Los Angeles. The refinery will use the Honeywell Green Jet process. All they say about the feedstock is that it will be using “non-edible natural oils [which is probably camelina] and agricultural wastes” but they claim the fuel will have ” at least a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis” compared to conventional kerosene. Back in 2012 there was no mention of not competing with food crops, and in 2011 there was a flight using Solarzyme fuel of unknown source.    Click here to view full story…



China Eastern Airlines carries out test flight using palm oil – and is considering more

Date added: May 24, 2013

China Eastern Airlines has conducted a first test flight of a biofuel blend sourced and produced in China. The fuel was produced from used cooking oil and palm oil though one source says the fuel for this flight was just palm oil, as its processing is cheaper than processing used cooking oil. The use of palm oil as jet fuel has serious environmental problems, due to the loss of tropical rainforest to produce palm oil plantations, which leads to high carbon emissions. The destruction of rainforest causes substantial biodiversity loss. The use of palm oil for jet fuel also conflicts with food use of palm oil. Palm oil is an inappropriate fuel for aviation, and more responsible airlines have not used it. For any biofuel to be environmentally sustainable they would need to be produced from feedstocks that have no impact on biodiversity, land and water use – as well as having lower lifetime carbon emissions. The airline says, in one report, that it will begin to fly commercial services on 100% biofuels. Until now biofuels have been used in combination with traditional jet fuel from fossil sources. China Eastern has not yet released a timetable of when the commercial services will begin.

Click here to view full story…





and a bit of history:

New study predicts future consequences of a global biofuels program

23.10.2009   (EurekAlert)

Carbon emissions caused by the displacement of food crops and pastures may be
twice as much as those from lands devoted to biofuels production


A report examining the impact of a global biofuels program on greenhouse gas
emissions during the 21st century has found that carbon loss stemming from the
displacement of food crops and pastures for biofuels crops may be twice as much
as the CO2 emissions from land dedicated to biofuels production

The study, led by Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) senior scientist Jerry Melillo,
also predicts that increased fertilizer use for biofuels production will cause
nitrous oxide emissions (N2O) to become more important than carbon losses, in
terms of warming potential, by the end of the century.

Using a global modeling system that links economic and biogeochemistry data,
Melillo, MBL research associate David Kicklighter, and their colleagues examined
the effects of direct and indirect land-use on greenhouse gas emissions as the
production of biofuels increases over this century. They report their findings
in the October 22 issue of Science Express.

Direct land-use emissions are generated from land committed solely to bioenergy
production. Indirect land-use emissions occur when biofuels production on cropland
or pasture displaces agricultural activity to another location, causing additional
land-use changes and a net increase in carbon loss.

No major countries currently include carbon emissions from biofuel-related land-use
changes in their carbon loss accounting and there is concern about the practicality
of including such losses in a system designed to reduce fossil-fuel emissions.
Moreover, methods to assess indirect land-use emissions are controversial. All
quantitative analyses to date have either ignored indirect emissions altogether,
considered those associated from crop displacement from a limited area, confused
indirect emissions with direct or general land-use emissions, or developed estimates
based on a static framework of today’s economy.

Using a modeling system that integrates global land-use change driven by multiple
demands for land and that includes dynamic greenhouse-gas accounting, Melillo
and his colleagues factored in a full suite of variables, including the potential
of net carbon uptake from enhanced land management, N2O emissions from the increased use of fertilizer, environmental effects on carbon storage, and the economics
of land conversion.

“Our analysis, which we think is the most comprehensive to date, shows that direct
and indirect land-use changes associated with an aggressive global biofuels program
have the potential to release large quantities of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere,”
says Melillo.

Melillo and his colleagues simulated two global land-use scenarios in the study.
In Case 1, natural areas are converted to meet increased demand for biofuels
production land. In Case 2, there is less willingness to convert land and existing
managed land is used more intensely. Both scenarios are linked to a global climate
policy that would control greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel sources to
stabilize CO2 concentrations at 550 parts per million, a target often talked about
in climate policy discussions. Under such a climate policy, fossil fuel use would
become more expensive and the introduction of biofuels would accelerate, ultimately
increasing the size of the biofuels industry and causing additional effects on
land use, land prices, and food and forestry production and prices.

The model predicts that, in both scenarios, land devoted to biofuels will become
greater than the total area currently devoted to crops by the end of the 21st
century. Case 1 will result in more carbon loss than Case 2, especially at mid-century.
In addition, indirect land use will be responsible for substantially greater carbon
losses (up to twice as much) than direct land use.

“Large greenhouse gas emissions from these indirect land-use changes are unintended
consequences of a global biofuels program; consequences that add to the climate-change
problem rather than helping to solve it,” says Melillo “As our analysis shows,
these unintended consequences are largest when the clearing of forests is involved.”

In their model, Melillo and his colleagues also simulated N2O emissions from
the additional fertilizer that will be required to grow biofuel crops in the future.
They found that over the century, N2O emissions will surpass CO2 in terms of warming
potential. By 2100, Melillo and his team estimate that in both study scenarios,
biofuels production will account for more than half of the total N2O emissions
from fertilizer. “Best practices for the use of nitrogen fertilizer, such as synchronizing
fertilizer application with plant demand, can reduce N2O emissions associated
with biofuels production,” the scientists say.



see also

“Biofuel production can be climate-friendly says U.N.E.P.”

What the UNEP report actually says is this:

“Increased biofuel production is expected to have large impacts on biological
diversity in the coming decades, mostly as a result of habitat loss, increased
invasive species and nutrient pollution.”

“Clearing the natural vegetation mobilises the stocked carbon and may lead to
a carbon debt, which could render the overall GHG mitigation effect of biofuels
questionable for the following decades.”

“there is a potential risk for competition between food and fuel, and consequences
on food prices as a result.”

“For net consuming regions like the EU and countries like Germany, models have
shown that an increased use of biofuels would lead to an overall increase in absolute
global cropland requirements. This implies that if biofuels are produced on existing
cropland, other production – in particular for serving the growing food demand
beyond the capacities to increase yields – will be displaced to other areas (“indirect
land use”). As long as the global cropland required for agricultural based consumption
grows, displacement effects, land conversion and related direct and indirect impacts
may not be avoided through selected production standards for biofuels.”

“Clearing the natural vegetation mobilises the stocked carbon and may lead to
a carbon debt, which could render the overall GHG mitigation effect of biofuels
questionable for the following decades.

The total CO2 emissions from 10% of the global diesel and gasoline consumption
during 2030 was estimated at 0.84 Gt CO2, of which biofuels could substitute 0.17
to 0.76 Gt CO2 (20-90%), whereas the annual CO2 emissions from direct land conversion
alone are estimated to be in the range of 0.75 to 1.83 Gt CO2.”

You can read the report at:


Read more »

United hopes to buy 5 million gallons of biofuel per year from AltAir Fuels – from “non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes”?

US United Airlines has announced that it has executed a definitive purchase agreement with USA-based AltAir Fuels to buy allegedly “sustainable”advanced biofuels at commercial scale. In the partnership AltAir Fuels will retrofit part of an existing petroleum refinery near Los Angeles to produce some 30 million gallons per year, partly of  jet fuel and partly other diesel fuel.  United has agreed to buy 5 million gallons of the jet fuel each  year, for 3 years, starting in 2014, with the option to buy more. United has agreed a price for the fuel that is competitive with traditional, petroleum-based jet fuel. United says it will use this biofuel on flights from Los Angeles. The refinery will use the Honeywell Green Jet process. All they say about the feedstock is that it will be using “non-edible natural oils [probably camelina] and agricultural wastes” but they claim the fuel will have ” at least a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis” compared to conventional kerosene. Back in 2012 there was no mention of not competing with food crops, and in 2011 there was a flight using Solarzyme fuel of unknown source.



United Airlines teams with AltAir Fuels on biofuels initiative

Jun 05, 2013 (Ein)

Chicago-based carrier United Airlines (NYSE: UAL) said it executed a definitive purchase agreement with Seattle, USA-based AltAir Fuels for sustainable advanced biofuels at commercial scale.

Under the strategic partnership, AltAir Fuels will retrofit part of an existing petroleum refinery to become a 30m gallon, advanced biofuel refinery near Los Angeles, Calif. AltAir will produce low-carbon, renewable jet fuel and other renewable products.

United said it has collaborated with AltAir Fuels since 2009 and has agreed to buy 15m gallons of renewable jet fuel over a three-year period, with the option to purchase more.

The airline is purchasing the advanced biofuel at a price competitive with traditional, petroleum-based jet fuel, and AltAir expects to begin delivering five million gallons of renewable jet fuel per year to United starting in 2014. United will use the biofuel on flights operating out of its Los Angeles hub.

AltAir has partnered with an existing oil refiner for the operation of its first commercial facility and use of the refiner’s existing refinery near Los Angeles, Calif.

This partnership is taking idled refining equipment and retooling it to increase the nation’s energy supply positively impacting the southern California economy and providing the opportunity to sustainably power LAX flights.

Through process technology developed by Honeywell’s, AltAir is retrofitting the existing refinery to produce renewable biofuel. AltAir has worked extensively with Honeywell’s UOP to demonstrate the commercial viability of the Honeywell Green Jet process.

Utilising this technology, licensed from UOP, the AltAir facility aims to be the first refinery internationally to be capable of in-line production of both renewable jet and diesel fuels.

The facility will convert non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes into approximately 30 m gallons of low-carbon, advanced biofuels and chemicals per year.

United said that the advanced biofuels are drop-in replacements for petroleum-based fuel, requiring no modification to factory-standard engines or aircraft, with which they are fully compatible.

This fuel provides the same performance as conventional, petroleum-based jet fuel. AltAir Fuels’ renewable jet fuel is expected to achieve at least a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis, it said.

For more information visit www.united.com/ecoskies and www.altairfuels.com.




Comment from a member of Biofuel watch

AltAir got a $2m grant from the US government to design a refinery in California so that it could turn camelina oil into jet fuel.  This was supposed to have opened in 2012 but I can’t find any indication that it has been.  Several US state governments are pushing camelina for biofuels.  Camelina is edible but growing it in larger monocultures is pretty experimental.  It looks a bit like oilseed rape but the yields are much lower, so it requires a lot more  land.  So whether AltAir will deliver any biofuels by 2014 – and whether those will actually be from camelina remains to be seen.




in 2011 –
AltAir announces camelina biofuels project in California

August 23, 2011

In California, AltAir Fuels plans to build a biojet plant in Bakersfield that will begin producing fuel in 2012. As a result, farmers in the Central and San Joaquin valleys are being encouraged to grow 25,000 acres of camelina under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

The five-year contracts are being offered by the US Farm Service Agency with a base-soil-rental-plus-50 percent incentive which could see farmers average $400 per acre for growing camelina. Another 25,000 acres are expected to enroll in the program for camelina growing in Washington and Montana.









United Airlines and AltAir Fuels to Bring Commercial-Scale, Cost-Competitive Biofuels to Aviation Industry

a long, waffly article with little actual content, about this biofuel announcement, from United.

United executes definitive purchase agreement for 15 million gallons of cost-competitive, commercial-scale, sustainable aviation biofuel to be used on flights departing LAX in 2014
AltAir Fuels’ renewable jet fuel expected to achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis

CHICAGO, June 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — United Airlines today executed a definitive purchase agreement with AltAir Fuels for cost-competitive, sustainable, advanced biofuels at commercial scale, representing a historic milestone for aviation. With United’s strategic partnership, AltAir Fuels will retrofit part of an existing petroleum refinery to become a 30 million gallon, advanced biofuel refinery near Los Angeles, Calif. AltAir will produce low-carbon, renewable jet fuel and other renewable products.

……. and it goes on  ……. and on …… with no information whatsoever about the the feedstock for the fuels, what it will be (other than “non-edible oils and agricultural wastes” ) or where they will come from – and what other use they will have be diverted from.


About AltAir Fuels

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, AltAir Fuels (www.altairfuels.com) develops and operates projects for the production of low carbon fuels and chemicals derived from sustainable feedstocks. Its first project, a 30 million gallon per year facility is located near Los Angeles in southern California and will produce renewable jet and diesel fuel as well as other green intermediate chemicals. Jesta Group is the lead investor in AltAir.

Jesta Group is a diversified company with significant holdings in all classes of real estate and hospitality as well as in other important sectors of the economy, notably in the fields of manufacturing, technology and aviation. Jesta Group’s principal offices are located in London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Montreal and Los Angeles, having operations in 26 countries. Jesta Group’s President, Jason Aintabi, serves as Chairman of the board of AltAir.







United Airlines (Continental) biofuel flight on 7th Nov and Alaska Airlines on 9th Nov

6.11.2011The United flight is a Boeing 737-800 from Houston to Chicago, using 40% Solarzyme fuel, with allegedly “sustainable” of unknown composition. The Alaska Airlines’ 1st commercial  biofuel flight is Seattle to Washington. Alaska & its sister, Horizon Air, plan to fly 75 “selected” flights over the next few weeks using 20% fuel made from used cooking oil (a gimmick, as there is so little of the stuff) made by Dynamic Fuels. The fuel companies are in a race to scale up profitably.  http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=4678 .and


US Senate Airmed Services Committee votes that US military cannot use biofuel, due to price

May 27th, 2012

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted on May 24 to prohibit the US military from buying biofuel. This is only because it is more expensive than conventional fuels.  There had been much hope by the American biofuels industry that the US military would be an early adopting large customer, and get them going. The committee’s majority also voted to stop the Department of Defense from building its own biofuel refinery. However, United Airlines, Boeing, and UOP (part of Honeywell) have joined with the Chicago Department of Aviation and the Clean Energy Trust to form MASBI, the the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative, They plan to “unlock the Midwest’s economic potential for advanced biofuels ” etc etc. probably from crops. No mention of not competing with food etc, just creating jobs. 


United, Boeing and UOP Join Big Push for Biofuels




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